NEW YORK Even as the wildfire of pro-gay advocacy ravages across the nation, pro-family Christian groups say they are encouraged, for in every crises there is an opportunity for change.
In the past, Christian groups have been branded as intolerant for upholding the values that protected this nation. However, as the whirlwind of debate over homosexual marriage took full force, the majority finally began to understand and hear the concerns of pro-family groups.
"People were just hoping this issue would go way, and now they're forced to think about it, and make some evaluation of what homosexuality is," said Joseph Nicolosi, a leading proponent of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
According to Nicolosi, there has been an increase in inquiries and donations in the recent weeks when the debates over gay marriage flared up. "People are taking us more seriously," said Nicolosi, who got involved with the cause when the American Psychological Association condemned reparative therapy as a harmful practice.
The Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said he has been campaigning against gay activism since 1972 and has never seen an issue rouse such passions as same-sex marriage.
"America stands at a defining moment," he said. "The only comparison is our battle for independence from England."
Sheldon, a Presbyterian minister, traces his strong views to his background as a theology student. "When you advocate homosexual marriage, you are violating the mandate of the Creation narrative," he said.
Alan Chambers, executive director of the Florida-based Exodus International also noted increased support of their cause. Chambers, who was once gay, said therapy and religion helped him change his sexual orientation, and said the marriage controversy transformed the dynamics of the gay-rights debate.
"A lot of people are thinking about this for the first time," he said. "They're forced to have an opinion, and we've seen that trend mostly in favor of the conservative position."
Exodus International holds that "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."
In Huntington, Conn., Stephen Bennett, a pro-family radio commentator said that the homosexual blitz has given pro-family groups a stronger voice.
"I thank God this is happening," said Bennett. "They've gone way too fast, and it's giving people such as myself a real voice to explain the dangers to America."
Bennett, who was once gay, said he moved away from homosexuality after a Christian friend who let him rethink his lifestyle.
"I lived a gay lifestyle for 11 years and was involved with more than 100 men sexually, including many who died from AIDS said Bennett.
"We should not be enabling homosexual men and women to continue in a dysfunctional lifestyle," Bennett said. "That's not hate-filled or homophobic. We should help them move out of it."
The conservative Christian group Focus on Family echoed this view.
A lot of Americans believe in 'Live and let live,' but they are very uncomfortable with same-sex marriage," said Glenn Stanton. "The other side is trying to bully people in believing it's just fine."