The Advocate’s Andrew Harmon reports that Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) rebuttal of Tom Minnery’s assertion that children were better off living in households with opposite-sex parents wasn’t the only awkward moment for the Focus on the Family’s vice president at yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act. What truly confused observers was Minnery’s offer to assist Ron Wallen — a widower who testified about losing his home because of the 1996 law — with “counseling and outreach services from his organization, which until two years ago had sponsored an ex-gay summit known as Love Won Out”:
“I had read his prepared testimony the night before, so I knew what he was going to say,” Wallen told The Advocate. “But I was shocked when he offered condolences, and was in disbelief when he was offering his services. If I were looking for help, his [organization] would be the last place I would go to.”
Asked what services they might provide, Focus on the Family vice president of communications Gary Schneeberger said in a statement to The Advocate, “We offer a variety of print and online resources, as well as free counseling referrals, to help people deal with the myriad challenges of life.
“We would be happy to share those with Mr. Wallen in the hope they would help him through the trials he’s experienced,” Schneeberger said.
Besides its ex-gay affiliations, Focus on the Family maintains ties to many state-level anti-equality groups and is helping them raise over $6 million to fight marriage equality over the next year through the covert “Ignite An Enduring Cultural Tradition” campaign. The group also inherited the “Day of Dialogue” (formerly “Day of Truth”) from the Alliance Defense Fund, which encourages Christian youth to be vocal about their anti-gay beliefs to show “love” to their LGBT peers who are “hurting” and “vulnerable.” Last April, Minnery clarified that FOTF would oppose an openly gay nominee to the Supreme Court because homosexuality is sinful.
You can watch Wallen’s moving testimony from the hearing below: