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Publish Date: 5/2/2005

500 gay rights supporters protest outside Focus on the Family


COLORADO SPRINGS — At least 500 people braved spitting snow showers and cutting wind Sunday outside Focus on the Family’s headquarters to protest the group’s campaign against homosexual rights and same-sex marriage.

“We are here to say, Jim, we love you enough to stop you from doing the damage you are doing to families across the nation,” said Mel White, executive director of Soulforce, a national interfaith organization that supports gay rights and is supported by roughly 100 churches and groups.

White was referring to James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian ministry group that actively campaigns against homosexual rights.

Speaking to the crowd that included gay and lesbian couples, families and children, White called Focus on the Family “a toxic religion zone.”

Watching the rally from inside the Focus headquarters was Thomas Minnery, director of public policy for Focus. He denied that Focus delivers a message of hate but reiterated the organization’s belief that homosexuality violates Biblical scripture.

“There are thousands of people who have left homosexuality, including some on our staff. To say that one is born that way obviously flies in the face of facts,” said Minnery. Focus has a program called “Love Won Out” that teaches homosexuality can be prevented or treated.

Focus on the Family staffer Melissa Fryrear said she was gay for a decade before becoming Christian and realizing her new life was incompatible with homosexuality.

“That’s not a Focus on the Family stance. That’s a biblical stance,” said Fryrear, who talked to reporters inside a tent on the organization’s grounds.

Meanwhile, protesters, despite the weather, were in a festive mood, walking under several strands of rainbow colored balloons, listening to music and eating hot dogs. Children took turns trying to walk on stilts and church members carried banners while others waved signs reading “God Loves Justice” and “Love Thy Neighbor.”

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