A conference aimed at increasing awareness about the ex-gay community showcased the diversity of the movement in the United States, says one of its organizers.
Conservative groups including Voice of the Voiceless, the Family Research Council, and the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays held the second annual Ex-Gay Awareness Conference in Washington, D.C. Oct. 3-4.
Christopher Doyle, president and co-founder of Voice of the Voiceless, told The Christian Post that the event "was a great success."
"We had over 80 people registered for the two-day event, which was an increase from last year's dinner. We celebrated our achievements and how much our coalition has accomplished," Doyle said. "We also cast a vision for future work to protect the rights of individuals who do not embrace a gay identity and seek therapeutic and spiritual support for unwanted homosexual feelings, both from a legislative and advocacy standpoint."
The second annual conference came as several state-level bills aimed at criminalizing sexual orientation change therapy for minors were stalled or defeated.
While California and New Jersey have passed laws against conversion therapy for gay youth, many other states' legislatures have voted down or tabled similar bills.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the two bills, but none of them have thus far been successful in striking down the laws.
Attendees at the second annual conference not only participated in workshops and watched the film "Sing Over Me," they also lobbied members of Congress in an effort to increase awareness about their cause.
"My hope is that Congress recognizes the great diversity within those who experience same-sex attractions, and respects the life choices and values of all those in this community, not just those who embrace a gay identity," Doyle told CP.
"We're not against anyone, we're promoting our stories and wish to support those like us — homosexuality didn't work for us, and we sought a different path, and are genuinely happy with that choice."
The divrsity of voices at the conference, Doyle noted, included, "[former ambassador and presidential candidate] Alan Keyes' philosophical oration, Dennis Jernigan's music, Jayson Graves' therapeutic insight, and Sandy Rios' practical media experiences defending the rights of ex-gays."
"All of these voices encouraged and inspired our coalition to continue fighting in 2015 and beyond," added Doyle.
The event also featured Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at Family Research Council, and Sandy Rios, director of government relations for American Family Radio Talk and vice president of Family Pac Federal.