Over 850 LGBT activists have signed on to protest a Christian conference that will address same-sex attraction and transgenderism this weekend in San Diego.
The Hope 2017 two-day conference, starting on Friday, is organized by Restored Hope Network, and promises "powerful biblical teaching, dozens of workshops, worship, and inspiring life stories of those who have dealt with same sex attraction or transgenderism and been transformed by the living God."
The LGBT activists, who have set up a Facebook page titled "The Big O'Gay Anti-Conversion Therapy Protest," argue that so called "gay conversion" therapy "is an abusive and deadly practice that targets LGBTQ youth."
Gina Roberts, a transgender and local Log Cabin Republican Club leader, questioned in a Times of San Diego article how such a conference could be held in California, where therapy for minors aimed at changing one's sexual orientation is banned.
Anne Paulk, executive director of Restored Hope Network, said that the event "does not seek to break the law; nor do our members," however.
Paulk referred to the details on the eventbrite registration page, which state: "Individuals under 18 are allowed when accompanied by parent or guardian. No counseling will be provided for minors."
She further clarified that California law bars "not a method of counseling but a goal for teens" and "applies only to those under 18 years of age and impacts licensed counselors in the state."
Roberts argued that "the absolute worst cases of PTSD I've ever met have been kids" who underwent sexual orientation change efforts. "They were seriously screwed up. And became nearly suicidal. And stayed gay."
But Paulk told the Times of San Diego that tolerance is "a two-way street" and that just as conference organizers plan to be kind to the LGBT protesters, she hopes the activists can respect conference attendees.
"We expect the respect and freedom to leave homosexuality as much as respecting their right to remain homosexual or transgender," Paulk stated. "Tolerance is truly a two-way street. Those who do not wish to leave homosexual relationships do not speak for those of us who do or have left homosexuality."
Janet Mefferd, a Christian radio talk show host who is scheduled to speak at the San Diego conference, meanwhile, maintained that "the conference is about the hope of the gospel."
Restored Hope Network is a coalition of ministries "serving those who desire to overcome sinful relational and sexual issues in their lives and those impacted by such behavior, particularly homosexuality."
The network also serves those who are struggling with their gender identity as well as people "impacted by another's confusion as a parent, a child, a family member or pastor, leader or friend."
"There is only One who has everything necessary for life and godliness — and He intends for you to have a future and hope," RHN states.
Its Hope conference this weekend will feature speakers Joe Dallas, an ordained pastoral counselor; Mefferd; Linda Seiler, who struggled with her gender identity for over two decades; and Andrew Comiskey, who has struggled with same-sex attraction.
Comiskey of Desert Stream Ministries slammed former President Barack Obama's support for bans on sexual orientation change efforts for youth back in April 2015.
"Perhaps Obama thinks he is opening up the future for a gender-confused generation. He is actually closing it," Comiskey wrote at the time.
"In refusing to consider valid options for persons who seek clinical assistance to change their sexual identity, he reduces human freedom, the very freedom he seeks to defend by condemning reparative therapy."
RHN announced that it also plans to host the world premiere of a documentary on transgenderism.