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someone killing him. My main concern was

During the whole thing. the two best Christians I know. MAN: My parents are probably this to me, So to have them presenting for them as well, you know, it's just kind of a coming out relieved about this completely light-hearted and and they're all of a sudden just and able just to be proud. Thank you for your company five staunchly Christian families for a film that explores how have handled having a gay child. of Gene Robinson, Among them are the parents

in America - the first openly gay Episcopal bishop threatened the unity an appointment which has of the Anglican communion worldwide.

This challenging film in the United States which has won numerous awards also examines the different ways biblical texts about homosexuality that Christians and Jews interpret

and then how these interpretations might apply to the modern world. across the nation If we were on a crusade with the homosexuals, to try to do away on 8th June then, we certainly would have done it victories in the country, after one of the most overwhelming but we didn't. We tried to avoid it called Norfolk, Virginia, and went into a place

and were met with protest, and all kinds of problems. And every... MAN: Oh! Security agent, security agent. CAMERA CLICKS No. No, let him stay. Let him stay. Well, at least, it's a fruit pie. Let's pray for him right now, Anita. Huh! Let's pray. That's all right. Father, we want to thank you

of coming to Des Moines for the opportunity that you forgive him. and Father, I want to ask And that we love him. That we love him. (CRIES) And that we'll pray for him... from his deviant lifestyle, Father. be delivered MAN: This is nation under God. the moral fabric of this nation. MAN: They're destroying word of God. MAN: The Bible is the inerrant When do we want it? Now! PROTESTERS: Civil rights! everything it can This country is doing it's OK to be gay. to make everyone believe And quite frankly, it's not. Sodom and Gomorrah. That's why God destroyed to this country. And that's what's gonna happen

God hates this country. of the old-time religion. America needs a tidal wave to join me in a pledge, And I want all the audience whole God-hating, Christ-hating, that you will never rest until this infidel old world Sabbath-breaking,

of Jesus Christ is bound to the cross by the golden chains of love. # Deus sacramentum # Deus, deus sacramentum... # are allowed their civil rights, If homosexuals or thieves or anyone else. then, so would prostitutes Marriage cannot be severed

and natural roots. from its cultural, religious is part politics, part religion, The rancorous debate is homosexuality a sin? part science - Is it a choice?

because the Bible says so. It is a sin I wanted to marry. I've never seen a man in my life LAUGHTER I'm gonna kill him If one ever looks at me like that, CHEERING AND APPLAUSE and tell God he died. and the New Testament God says in the Old that it's an abomination. CROWD: Yeah! God calls it an abom'nation. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE It's an abom'nation!

It's an abom'nation!

Goebbels said working for Hitler, They've heard it so much, like the whole world will believe it. you tell the lie enough times, that homosexuality The Bible clearly states is wrong. find it in there, it's in there. Read it through there, than one time, probably 20 times. I'm sure it's in there more But it's in there. a fifth grade understanding of God There's nothing wrong with in the fifth grade. as long as you're Leviticus 18! when you read the Bible. You have to think

to be with a man! It's a sin for a man before the Reformation perhaps, Which is why, in saying that ordinary people the Roman Catholics were right cos usually, they get it wrong. shouldn't be reading the Bible

we do. And I'm convinced that usually, to hold these beliefs by the Church. We have been conditioned And it really has been the Church. where the prejudice was born It is the place and has been promoted. and was nurtured

the Bible has been misused For a long time, to support prejudice -

apartheid, segregation, slavery, of women. the second-class citizenship to condemn gay people. Now, it's being used, misused, It's an old trick using throughout the ages, fundamentalist Christians have been and now they're doing it again. I would choose I was asked once what book on an island if I were shipwrecked for the rest of my life. and could have only one book of only one book I replied that I knew that could be read and reread and continue to be a challenge - the Bible.

CHURCH BELLS DING Well, I think for both of us, if we don't go to church, is just not complete. it just feels like Sunday # Down life's highway # All alone I've trod... # when I was about 13 or 14. Well, I started coming to Bethany

when I was a baby. So... My mother started bringing me 79 years. ..that means I've been coming here When we were 16, I met Victor. more often. And so, I wanted to come to church

# Oh, I want the Lord # To protect my soul # To protect my soul # To lead me on... # # To lead me on in high school. Victor and I first met It was just love at first sight.

right then and there, I would have married him but his mother didn't want him to get married and go off to war. So we didn't get married. But we did shortly thereafter. (LAUGHS) I asked her if she would like to get hitched up, married. She said yes. You gave me a ring for Christmas. We went and got her an engagement ring, and then on 1st March 1946, why, we got married. 16 months after we were married, Gene was born.

And the nurse came out and said they had a hard time on delivery, she said he was pretty bruised up. He was paralysed on one side. On one side. The paediatrician said he might never walk, he might not talk. But as we watched him, he would walk and he talked. Oh, he did everything. He did everything a normal child was supposed to do. I've always said that miracles still happen, and one happened there. So we were grateful and thanked God for that. When Gene was a little boy, he wanted to be a preacher or a doctor. And of course, he came to church all the time. He loved to sing, and he stood up here in front of the church at two years old, singing Jesus Loves Me and all the little songs. We had the Christmas program each year, and he always had a big part in the Christmas program.

He was just eager to do anything they wanted to do, with the church work. This church was very important to our family. My great great great great grandfather had helped found this congregation of the Disciples of Christ church. So, from the very beginning, I was in Sunday school, I had my perfect attendance pin for, I don't know, 13, 14 years. From 10:00 to 11:00 on Sunday morning, everyone was in Sunday school class that was always and only focused on the Bible. So we were absolutely steeped in scripture. And he was a perfect student in school. Straight-A student all through. Made a 4.0. So, you might know, we're kind of proud of him. The earliest recollection that I have of first thinking, "Wow, I'm different", I think it was about seventh grade. And some friends somehow got hold of a Playboy magazine. And I...realised that these pictures were apparently doing things for these other guys that they weren't doing for me. And the second thing that I realised was, "I'd better not show or say that these weren't doing anything for me."

I was always familiar with what the Bible said. Anyone who was thought to be "that" way was an abomination before God. I think my church was pretty explicit about that, the culture certainly was. Most Americans are repelled by the mere notion of homosexuality. The CBS news survey shows that 2 out of 3 Americans look upon homosexuals with disgust, discomfort or fear. 1 out of 10 says hatred. The Bible condemns homosexuality.

Through the centuries, churchmen have called it unnatural, unmanly, ungodly. # It's all right # Oh, it's all right # It's all right # It's all right # To try to But I don't know why # Come on # It's all right... #

Tonight, I'm going to talk a little bit about family. MAN: Yeah! Woman, behold thy son. All right! Wonder why Jesus said these words. 'As a minister, I'm going to tell them what the word says.' As I grow in Christ, he opens up the Bible more and more to me.

I've learned enough about the Bible now to understand God, understand how God works, how Jesus works.

Jesus took on the sin of all of us. I like to tell young people, "God loves you", "He really loves you", but you have to do something for him. You have to love him back. That's the main thing. GOSPEL SINGING

I met Brenda through my brother. She had a real sensible head on her. And she was also really put together well, you know. (LAUGHS) So... ..she had a good impression on me. And we've been together 40 years and never had a separation. Never. I had good kids. We had one of each sex.

When my kids were growing up, I said, "God, please, don't let my son grow up to be a fag, and my daughter a slut." And he did not. He did not do that. He reversed it. (LAUGHS)

Tonia, growing up, was a loner. I was very quiet, very shy.

My favourite thing to do would be to be alone in a room with a book. In fact, my mother and I would make weekly trips to the library and get a bunch of books for the week, we both really loved to read. We liked a lot of the same things. My relationship with Tonia was a mother but we were friends as well. I went to Yale, which was a big change from a dirt road in North Carolina. It took a lot of adjusting, I was really unhappy my first semester of college. Everybody walked too fast, it was too cold, everybody seemed to have a summer home in the whatever. I just didn't feel like I fit in anywhere,

and I ended up starting a support group for people who were questioning their sexuality.

A person who was going to the group and who ended up helping me organise it ended up being my first female partner. It was a really difficult thing because I'd always been close to my mother and talked to her just about everything,

and it just got harder and harder to have a relationship and not be able to tell her those things. So I decided I would tell her in an effort to improve our relationship. MAN: And, how did that go? It was remarkably unsuccessful. (LAUGHS) CHURCH MUSIC As a Christian, as a Christian, I believe with all my heart that homosexuality is wrong. Whatever became of Christian America and the family? The secular world has taken God's ground, and it's time that Christian America starts taking God's ground back! My dad said I could go anywhere in the country as long as it was a Lutheran college and I decided I wanted to get out of Minnesota, so I went down to California Lutheran and that's where I met Phil. We actually had a lot in common. Everybody in my family was a Lutheran pastor -

my brother's a pastor, my dad's a pastor, all my grandparents were pastors, my uncles are pastors, my cousins were pastors.

So it was deep in my heritage, the Lutheran Church, and the same for Randi. Yeah. For me, the Lutheran Church too was just, it was the centre, it was the core of our life. And so, to meet Phil, and have that same faith background, I just felt like we came from the same stock. We got married in Randi's backyard.

My dad married us. It was a beautiful 1st July, 38 years ago. We always wanted four kids. And so, we had our two boys, then, I said, "Please, God, I want a little of each." And I had my girl. (SOBS) And then I had Jake.

And so, I did have a little of each. (KID HUMS) How old are you, Big J? No! Three, that's right. We were like any other Minnesota family, Lutheran, and... (LAUGHS) Garrison Keillor would portray us, we're Lutheran people who come from Scandinavia. We went to church every Sunday. My father was president of our congregation, and my mother was a Sunday school teacher, so we were a pretty involved family. I remember very distinctly when I was a kid when I first learned that so much of the world wasn't Christian, and that just kind of blew my mind because I was of the perspective that everyone was Christian because everyone wanted to go to heaven, you know.

Then, I learned that only one third of the world was Christian,

and I thought to myself, "Are that many people going to hell?" And I remember one Sunday where my pastor preached on homosexuality and it wasn't in the best of light, but I didn't want to question cos I knew that the answers wouldn't be good. PIANO MUSIC People of all state... The Catholic Church is quite clear in saying that the expression of homosexuality is sinful, it is a sin. But on the other end, the Church is equally clear in saying that the tendency towards homosexuality is in itself blameless. # Take away the breath of flowers # It would surely be a sin # Take that rain from April showers # Yes, it's a sin # Is it a sin... # My parents were very religious, they were both Catholic. And you talk about a little bit of intolerance, it was mainly between the different religions. Yes. So, when I came home and I said, "I'm marrying a Baptist", their first reaction was, "Huh! You're not marrying a Catholic boy?" But the compromise was, we will raise the children Catholic. # It's no sin. # CLASSICAL PIANO MUSIC Growing up in the Catholic Church, it was never something that I heard explicitly, but I definitely... ..knew that that was part of the Bible. And in fact, there were two things that I remember that were an abomination -

homosexuality and suicide. And I'll never forget thinking that "Oh, my gosh, you can never commit suicide cos you're gonna go to hell, and you can never be gay cos you're gonna go to hell." We thought she was... She was always a jock.

We thought she was athletic. She was good too.

She was a good athlete. She was a good athlete. But she also wore pants more than skirts and dresses. But that was because she was trying to be like Matt. Like her older brother. We thought that. That's what we thought, and I still think that. When I was in high school and college, I remember my girlfriends talking about sex, saying how great it was, how wonderful it was, and I'm like, "This sucks. Why do you like that?" And they were like, "He's so hot, and his body...", and I'm like, uh-uh, you know. You don't think, "Well, maybe I'm gay", you think of it as "Maybe I just haven't met the right guy",

"Maybe someday I'll meet some guy who'll sweep me off my feet and then everything will be great." And Mark was really the only person she dated in college.

And I'll never forget when she came home after she'd met Mark, she said, "Dad, you're gonna like Mark." Yeah. "This is your kind of guy." I met my husband in college, and we became a couple. VIOLIN MUSIC 'We got married in 1997.' I, Christine, take you, Mark. To be my wedded husband. To be my wedded husband. And it was sort of the next step. It was sort of like, "OK, we've known each other for five years. You're my best friend.

I guess we should get married now." I decided to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church my senior year of college, and go to seminary. For a year, I was the Episcopal Chaplain at the University of Vermont. Perhaps a month after I had been in Burlington,

I met Boo. I think she just came to church.

And there was this new young chaplain in training, and within ten minutes, I was smitten. He was so smart and so clear and had such faith. We just sort of hit it off early on. I shared with her the serious relationships that I'd had had been with men, and that I'd been in therapy for a year twice a week to sort of cure myself. And I remember saying to her, "I'm scared to death that this homosexual thing could rear its ugly head." I felt like he loved me enough so that it wouldn't matter and that our love could triumph over that. We both just wanted it to work so much. And so then, they married. We had a big... Big to-do. Big to-do! Some friends built a dance floor, and the fire department did a big chicken barbecue, and I was just so in love. And it was just really a very festive great time. All through the Bible, we know that procreation is one of the reasons that God put Adam and Eve together. Adam and Steve, and Eve and Jane can't procreate.

It is an act of abomination, that's what the Bible says and that's what I believe. I have to go with what the Bible say. I have to. And the Bible say it' abomination.

# It ain't necessarily so # The things that you're liable

# To read in the Bible # It ain't necessarily so. # What do you think the Bible says about homosexuality? Well, it just says simple -

man don't lay with another man or a woman not with another woman. It's in the King James Bible that homosexuality is a sin as it is in the Catholic Bible. In the New Testament, I don't think Jesus mentions it anywhere. He doesn't say anything about it. In Romans, it's very clear that God says it's unnatural. I know the Bible says it's wrong, you know. I go on faith that yes, it's the word of God, that's what I've been taught, what I believe, so I don't analyse it as deeply as some other people do. # Ain't necessarily so. # I've read snippets. I've believed from, you know, what right-wingers are saying in terms of what the Bible says on homosexuality, but in terms of what I know and what I've read, I haven't actually read it. When people ask questions about homosexuality, almost always, they follow with, "And what does the Bible really say about it?" There are about six or seven verses in all of scripture that speak to even remotely what we might call homosexual activity or homosexual conduct. In this particular one, it's Leviticus, chapter 20, verse 13. It says, "If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." If you read the Bible on a face value level,

that reading disregards several very important things. The first one is just a few verses before that.

Moses teaches in Leviticus that it is an abomination to eat shrimp. A few verses above and below, it says, you shouldn't plant two different seeds in the same hole, you shouldn't commingle your crops. It is an abomination to eat a rabbit. There's another law that says you shouldn't wear linen and wool together. They are failing to read the Bible within the context of its authors and of its original culture. The Bible is the word of God through the words of human beings speaking in the idiom of their time. And the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don't take it as literally so,

that it was dictated by God. To just pick out, "This is the one that we're gonna follow", the Bible doesn't come that way. It's selective reading. When the term 'abomination' is used in the Hebrew Bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong. It never is used to refer to something innately immoral.

Eating pork was not innately immoral for a Jew. But it was an abomination, because it was a violation of a ritual requirement. Those biblical laws, they're known as the holiness code.

They were laws that were supposed to help people at that time find holiness in their life. To me, that's the important thing to recognise - the historical context in which this was written. That particular section on a man not lying with a man goes to procreation. It is about a nation trying to grow. At the time, the Hebrew people understood that male seed was actually

all of nascent life contained right there. Women had nothing to do with actually the birth, except for just incubation. So that particular section was about saving seed, saving seed only to procreate so the nation could grow. There is no ability to procreate when you're engaged in homosexual behaviour, so it was a violation of a cultural norm. The sin of Onan in the Old Testament where Onan is committed to death because he ejaculates out of the woman's body so his partner doesn't get pregnant. As the King James version says, "Onan spills his seed upon the ground, and God strikes him dead." It was ritually impure, it was an abomination. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination. I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr President. The Bible does. Yes, it does. Leviticus. 18:22. Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.

She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death.

Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it OK to call the police? I can't tell you how many radio stations I'm on where the opposition will say, "Have you ever read Leviticus 20?" and I say, "Yeah, I've read Leviticus 20, what does it mean to you?" He says, "A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be killed". I say, "Who should do the killing? The Church people?" And this Presbyterian in Seattle said, "No, that's the civil authorities' job. That's why we need to get more good men of God elected in the government." And I said, "So they can kill us?" He said, "Well, you must find that hard to take, Dr White, but God said it first and it's our job to obey." # There's a family Bible # On the table. # I grew up in a home that was very fundamentalist. I was in church whenever the doors were open. I was there for Sunday school on Sunday mornings

and church on Sunday night. # There's a family Bible... # Everything in the Bible was taken literally, and there were rules about everything. I was taught that Catholics were going straight to hell, and then I married one. So... (LAUGHS) I had two daughters by my first husband - Anna and Becky. We lived in Missouri, and it was the typical all-American family in the neighbourhood. I think that that upbringing of mine,

I definitely passed it on to my daughters. We went to a conservative, Bible-believing church every Sunday. I think Anna was about two weeks old when we went to church. My earliest memory of Anna was that she could hum Jesus Loves Me when she was ten months old. She couldn't talk, but she could hum the tune. The girls, they were like normal siblings. Anna was 11 and Becky was 8 when their dad and I got divorced. And they were 9 and 12 when I remarried. When I was growing up, homosexuality was not taught in school.

I didn't really study the Bible at all about it,

but I did pull out those passages and read them and certainly used them against Anna later. I realised I was gay when I was in middle school, you know. It was when I really came to accept it for myself. I came out to my sister when I was a sophomore in high school, 15 years old. About a year later, I told my parents, when I was 16.

When Jake came out, I was home. And he was crying, and told me that he was gay. It hit me so hard I felt like I just had a death or like somebody had kicked me in the stomach and it just took all the wind out of me.

And it didn't go away. It was that way for months. It was the type of thing that... couldn't have 15 seconds of the day that you didn't think about it. I had so many dreams for Jake. And somehow, I think they... ..they were instantly shattered in my mind.

(CRIES) It was hard to hear. He told us that he had told Britta a year before, and I just thought, "A whole year!" He told somebody and he couldn't tell me. And I'm a stay-at-home mum, and I was always there for everybody. And I just felt like I had let him down. They were scared, very scared. My mother was scared about AIDS.

She talked about AIDS that night, you know. I also think there was a real present fear in my parents' mind of how the Reitan's would be perceived by the community. A lot of people knew that I was the fourth of four kids, my dad had a good law practice in town, and I think a lot of our family friends were not necessarily accepting of gay and lesbian people. One morning, I went out to get the paper.

We lived in a home that had a long driveway. And as I left the garage, I could see something at the end of the driveway, and I just thought some kids were having some fun with Jake. When I got down there, it was word. It was in chalk. It just said, "Fag".

And I just stood there and I thought, you know, "The kids must know that Jake is gay, and it's already starting." And I ran back into the house and got a bucket of water, and a scrub brush,

and I just scrubbed it off as fast as I could cos I didn't want Jake to see it. A lot of stuff happened. My dad had a brick thrown through his office window, my car window was smashed in.

When the windshield was broken, then I thought, you know, "This is getting very bold." And I remember never being able to go to sleep until Jake got home at night. Because you know, you just think... But see, also gay-bashing is kind of fun, you know. INTERVIEWER: It's kind of fun? Cos when they come out of their gay bars and stuff and they're walking, and you beat them up and they're like, "Oh, leave me alone!", they're so fag. Ew! They're like faggots. They're wimpy. Is that what you're saying? Not wimpy, but... ..they're just like, you know, gay. Gene and I moved up here. By this time, he was very involved with the Episcopal Church here and the diocese, and we almost didn't have time to sort of think much about the gay piece of it. We just loved each other and were busy starting a family. As the girls came along, I just kept thinking that things didn't feel right. Gene was so beloved by everyone, and could just preach this incredible sermon and it would sound so intimate, but we were never intimate and that was just hard. I became increasingly aware of this, what I was describing as the gay part of me, and the lack of integrity that was embodied in this kind of split between what I was showing to the world and what I really felt I was. Once finally the words came out, "Yes, I am gay." "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm sure", it had to all be very secretive.

I couldn't talk to my family about it. How do you admit that your husband is gay? And now, what do we do?

So, Boo and I were in therapy together and separately, trying to figure out what this meant for us. And ultimately, what we decided was that she deserved the opportunity to be with someone who was thoroughly heterosexual, and I deserved the opportunity to see if I could make a life with another man. And in that strange sort of way, I feel like we lived up to our marriage vows. We together decided that the only way we could keep that vow of honouring one another was to let each other go. We had a ceremony of releasing our vows to give back the rings before God, saying that we would do everything to support each other as parents of our children - not renounce our vows but release our vows. He was a good person. You know, we loved each other. But there was just something missing. There wasn't the spark, the romance, it was more just like we were buds. But I always thought, you know, "It's more important that we love each other and that's all that matters."

I met Amy when I started in graduate school. We became good friends and we started to study together. I found myself really liking her and I really wanted to spend time When I wasn't with her, I wanted to be with her. One day, she's like, "Chrissy, there's something that I've been meaning to tell you that I've never told you and I feel bad," she's like, "because we know each other so well," And I said, "Well, what is that?" And she's like, "I date women and men." I had this epiphany and it was like, "Oh, my God. That's what this is. I totally have a crush on her. And at that moment I just wanted to be in a relationship with her. I thought, "That's what I want. That is what I want." Just one day, I was like "I've got to tell him today." So, we were going to sleep and as he was dozing off, I tapped him on the shoulder and I was bawling and I said, "Mark," I said, "I hate to tell you this," I said, "But I'm gay. And I don't think this marriage is going to work." We were up all night, just talking about it and I looked over at him and tears were streaming down his face and I just broke his heart. And now to God's wonderful word. ALL: I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's holy word.

The word of God that we hold in our hands today, this is the truth in print.

Biblical literalists are people who know the truth absolutely and so they're not able to engage in a conversation. They're only able to engage in a pronouncement. If I didn't believe that the Bible was the word of God,

I'd quit the ministry and I'd never preach another sermon. God wrote it so even a simple guy like me could understand it and if he said it, that settles it. I have a soft spot in my heart for literalists because I used to be one. However, when someone says to me, "This is what the Bible says." My response to them is, "No, that's what the Bible reads." It is the struggle to understand context and language and culture and custom that helps us to understand

the meaning or what it is saying. There are many readings to any passage. You and I can read the same passage and get a different interpretation and the reason for that, it has to do with our social location. I'm going to read the passage very differently than someone who might be white, male and straight and upper class. I am going to read it as an African American who's had a history of how the Bible has been used to denigrate black people. I'm going to read it as a woman, the Bible has been used to subordinate women. I'm going to read it as a lesbian, another, OK, use of the Bible to denigrate another group of people. The Bible teaches that we have a spiritual disease. Biblical literalism, far from being the classic Christian approach is in fact very modern. It belongs to the early part of the 20th century. So we had almost 2,000 years of Christian history without biblical literalism. It's a modern invention. One of my favourite examples for biblical literalism is there is a text that says, "You must take all you have and give it to the poor." I don't know anyone who says, "I believe that to be God's word

and therefore I will close my bank accounts, I will give all my money away and I will give it to the poor." What does the Bible say? People want to know... To me, the most monstrous gulf in the claim to literally following the Bible lies in the fact that most of the literalists in America are also capitalists. You know, they're making money. Being a biblical literalist, you don't take interest,

you couldn't possibly have investments because usury is condemned in the Bible. Most people haven't read the Bible, most Christians haven't read the Bible. So do they really know what it says or what the true intent is? Probably not. So, how do they know? How do they base what their Bible beliefs are? Well, someone else tells them. How powerful a weapon or tool is that? As time went on, there were just so many clues that as I look back, she was trying to tell me. Anna loved music and in high school she did a lot of singing, she was in a lot of musicals in school. And when she was a senior in high school, there was a drama teacher there who was a lesbian

and they became very close.

But I did not want to know. I just dismissed it, it was like I blocked it completely. Anna went away to college and in her freshman year she wrote us a letter telling us that she was a lesbian. She said that she was never comfortable with men but now she understood that she was comfortable with women. After going to the bathroom to become physically ill, and then just going completely underground, not telling anybody and being ashamed and embarrassed, I wrote her back and I told her some things in that letter that were not very loving. "Undoubtedly the most difficult part of your letter is the gay thing. I will never accept that in you.

I feel it's a terrible waste, besides being spiritually and morally wrong.

For a reason I don't quite fathom, I have a harder time dealing with that issue than almost anything in the world. I do and will continue to love you but I will always hate that." The church I was going to at that time did teach that it was a sin. And the six or seven passages in the Bible that talk about it, those were preached on from time to time. I was clearly in accord with what they were teaching - that it was a sin and not just a sin, but the sin above all sins. And so I had harsh words for her many times. And thought it was a choice and she needed to just get her act together and stop this. I did tell her when I was home for spring break my junior year. I told her the night before I was supposed to leave. She was in my room and I was packing up my stuff to go back to school. So I felt like "Well, this is going to change. We gonna fix this, because that's not the way she was born. That's not what she wants to do. She's never been a-", you know, that's not it. So I told her every negative thing I could tell her about it, which I was just pushing her further and further away. She was very surprised and disappointed and sort of blamed herself and "What went wrong?"

And I said, "I don't believe people are born that way. I believe you have a choice in whether you do it or not and you can just make up your mind that you're not doing this. And you better not tell nobody else." I didn't like it, but it didn't diminish my feelings for her. I don't say I accept that lifestyle, but yet I accept my child if you can understand where I'm coming from.

TONIA: My father actually worked really hard to be compassionate and understanding. I think both of them just didn't think it was true. 'When people talk about homosexuality, they often ask, "Is it a choice?"' I heard it is. 'Hello, what's your name?' Christian. 'Well, Christian, let's see what the latest science has to say.'

Oh, that. 'To help us, here are two gay people - George and Martha. Before we can answer, "Is it a choice?" we must first determine what it means to be gay. How do you know you're a homosexual? The same way you know that you're straight. 'Since the 19th century, many theories about homosexuality have been offered that are untestable and contradictory.'

FREUD: Male homosexuality is the result of an absent father und an overbearing mother. See ya! Stand up straight, dear. Und the female homosexual has never recovered from her anger over not having ze penis. She wishes to avenge her perceived castration by taking another female as her sexual object.

You're kidding me, right? Well, I've always been told that homosexuality is unnatural.

'Is it? In fact, homosexual relations are common in nature including zebras, baboons, dolphins, sheep, buffalo, ducks, foxes, elephants, horses, gorillas, moose, house cats, pigs, mice, rabbits, swans, and lions to name a few.' Well, OK. But we're not animals. Human beings have free will. You don't just decide who to love. 'Settle down there, Martha. Christian does have a point

but let's take a look at the most recent scientific evidence. As they study sexual orientation, scientists are currently looking at three main areas - gene, hormones and birth order. Of course, most of these studies focus only on male sexuality. Sorry, Martha.' What a shock. 'Let's first look at studies of identical twins.' Hi! 'When one identical twin is a gay man, the other twin is gay up to 70% of the time, far higher than would occur if genes played no role. In fact, these studies show that genes play a greater role in determining sexual orientation than they do in whether or not you're right or left-handed. And we don't punish the left-handed. Well, not anymore. Scientists have recently noticed a striking statistical phenomenon. Studies show having older brothers increases the odds of a boy being homosexual.' Moms always baby the youngest, making them gay. 'No, that's not it. When a woman is pregnant with a boy, scientists are realising that her female body often sees the male foetus as a foreign object and begins to produce antibodies against it. The more boys a woman has, the more adept her body becomes at feminising the foetus which may explain why with every successive boy,

the odds that he will be gay go up significantly.' All right, maybe you all accept it but what about those people who started out gay and say they became straight by discovering God?

What about ex-gay ministries? 'Even so-called ex-gay ministries don't claim to change a person's inner sexual desires, just his or her sexual conduct.' (We're still gay.) If these places really work, why don't they all use the same technique? Why does each ministry experiment its own way? Well... And why have so many members and leaders

recanted earlier claims that they were changed? Maybe these programs don't work for everyone, but what's the harm? How about the feelings of shame and guilt they instil and reinforce in their victims? Or the money, energy and time they sap from people who have nothing wrong with them? Says you. '(CHUCKLES) Well, in point of fact, not just George says that, Christian. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Social Workers have all stated that homosexuality should not be treated as a mental disorder and that they oppose attempts at "reparative" or "conversion" therapy. And that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed.' So that's it? I'm supposed to believe it's not a choice just because all those doctors and scientists say so? Or you could just ask us. I do know this one girl named Heather who goes back and forth but she's... Shut up. The trip back to Kentucky to tell my parents not only am I getting divorced but the reason is I'm gay was probably the longest trip I have ever taken. I was so anxious. You know, I was ashamed and embarrassed to be getting divorced and then there was just no good way to tell them that I was gay. Well, he made a special trip down from New Hampshire to tell us about it and it was a shock. It was a shock.

I can't remember whether it was something that my dad said or just what I saw on his face. I didn't think I was going to be allowed to stay there that night. Things were very, very tense for a long time. So we chose not to mention it to anyone else cos we knew how it would be, especially back then at that time. So we just didn't tell anybody about it. They knew he divorced then and all that and we just let it go at that. Since we don't really know why someone is gay, like we don't know why we're heterosexual - I mean, we know we are, but we don't know why we are - how can it be a sin of choice? Anytime there is a question like that I go back to what does the scripture say

and the scripture starts right out by saying God created a man and a woman, told them to go out and propagate the Earth. In other words, have sex and raise their families. And I want to make it clear right here that we are not angry at homosexuals. We really aren't. We love homosexuals and we want to help them. And Larry, there are millions of gays and I know that, and God loves them and cares for them but he does not love their sin and he will judge their sin if they don't repent and if they don't turn. God has set a standard to which we are obligated. The issue is, always has been and always will be the authority of scripture. We have a duty to tell the truth. You know, there's no commandment that says, "Thou shall not be gay" but there is a commandment that says, "Thou shall not bear false witness." And I will not bear false witness to who I am. When I was on Larry King Live, somebody called in and said, "What do you guys do in bed?" and Larry hung up on him and said, "That's none of your business." And I said, "We've been together in the same bed for 24 years. We're like everybody else. We sleep in bed." And King said, "Once they find out you're as boring as we are, it's all over." I can't say where in the scheme of things that I saw this talk show

and I realised that what I was embarrassed about was that I was thinking totally of how she was having sex and not about her as a person. Here they are - Rod Jackson, Bob Paris. These beautiful boys, they're gorgeous. They are! When I saw the talk show with two guys - buff, good-looking guys -

and they were asked the question, "Which one of you takes on the female role in the relationship?" And they said, "Neither one of us. We are attracted to men. If we were attracted to women, we would be with women." We both enjoy being men. And we both wear the pants in the family. (AUDIENCE CLAPS)

I'm sitting there and I'm thinking, "Yeah, sir. But what about these that twist their butts and act like women... What are they attracted to? Who are they?"

Hello, I'm Blaine Edwards. And I'm Antoine Mayweather. BOTH: And welcome to Men On Film. That show that looks at movies... ..from a male point of view. And I'm thinking, "But that's all you've ever seen." That's what comes to mind when you hear homosexual. You think of the girlfriend acting fella

or the butch, dykey acting woman.

You don't think about and there are quote "everyday people" who are gay and you're thinking about how they're having sex. And I had to realise that she was my daughter. She had the same personality. She enjoyed the same things that she did before I knew she was gay. I had to stop thinking about Tonia that way.

And then although I still do not approve of the lifestyle, it was a big burden off me

that I could relate to her better and I stopped trying to push her. We were kind of both walking on eggshells around each other in our conversations and I remember making a commitment to each other that we wouldn't do that anymore, that we would say what we felt, say what we thought, not censor ourselves just in an effort to just kind of be present with each other in a relationship. So many people who are victims of the fundamentalist Christian caricature of gays become fearful and stay fearful until they meet one. Once they realise they have a gay cousin or a gay or lesbian aunt or a transgender classmate. Once they realise who we are up close and personal, that fear begins to go away. After we divorced, Boo remarried in September of '87. Two months later, I met Mark. I just instantly was drawn to him. We dated for about a year and a half before we decided that we would spend the rest of our lives together and I had let him know very early on that I would never leave the girls. They've always considered him one of their dads. But my parents, they were just really so uncomfortable with Mark, and me and Mark. We didn't know about gay people, really. I think Northern people accept gay people a lot better than the South does. So we got a couple of books and read about gay folks and we tried to learn all we could about it. This journey they've been on is so amazing to me, but still something they're probably not totally comfortable with. I mean, I don't think they still understand it. After he told us, it didn't change our love for him. Because he's ours and we love him no matter what. God made him that way and he was still our blood. We learned to accept that.

And we knew how good he was at what he was doing and I think anybody would go to heaven, he would. In Genesis: 19, God burned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality.

Well, that's the passage in Genesis, the 19th chapter, that everybody, even if they don't read the Bible know about. Whether they're a part of a church or temple, they know about Sodom and Gomorrah. It's a part of our secular wisdom, or lack of wisdom, such as the case might be. 'Tonight on Greatest Heroes Of The Bible -

the struggle of a man against the forces of evil and of the awesome destruction brought by an angry God against Sodom and Gomorrah.' In the 18th chapter, God says that he's going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because he's heard that they're exceedingly wicked. 'The angels of the Lord appeared to Abraham.' And he brings with him two messengers,

angels in the form of men. The next morning, Abraham accompanies the two angels to Sodom and Gomorrah and he takes them to Lot's house and Lot entertains them. He feeds them, he allows them to have lodging. It was required among the Hebrew people that if someone came to your door, you were obligated to take them in. one of the most serious social breaches was to not entertain a stranger.

Sodom was an incredibly wealthy community and they didn't want to share their wealth and thought that if travellers passed through and were welcome, "Well, they might want to come and take our wealth." So they cancelled the law of the welcoming of travellers. And having violated the rule of Sodom, they threatened Lot and his guests with violence. I will send no guests from my house! The Bible says in one translation, "Let these men come out so we can have sex with them." And another translation says, so that we can know them." So we're not clear as to which translation is correct. My understanding of this passage is that these men wanted to gang-rape these two males, these two strangers, as an act of humiliation. Anal rape was a great way, in the ancient mind,

to humiliate, demean and punish. Armies that would defeat other forces would - not uncommonly - rape the defeated members of this army. Sodom's story is not about licence or promiscuity or even perversity. Sodom, according to the Rabbis is about cruelty, it's about inhospitality.

And so, the angels strike the men with blindness... ..and then usher the family out to safety. This is not about homosexuality. The city was doomed to destruction before the strangers arrived at the door. There has been 500 years of reputable, critical scholarship in the English language on these texts. This is not something that somebody's just come up with in the last three or four years, apologists for - I quote - "literal reading" of scripture. I know a lot of towns that are like Sodom and Gomorrah, that you can walk into these towns and they don't show any sign of hospitality simply because you're black or simply because you're gay or lesbian or just because you're an outsider.

We have many towns here in New England that are like that. That's the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. And when I walk through those towns, because I'm a black woman or a lesbian woman, that's when I think of Sodom and Gomorrah. I really do think that Sodom and Gomorrah is about homosexuality. A lot of people today want to say it was really about hospitality. But if all we have is the Sodom and Gomorrah story,

there's not a lot in the Old Testament that settles the question.

We have to turn to the New Testament. The one that's very clear is Romans one, of The Epistle To The Romans. In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul writes these words -

It seems to me, the clear meaning of that is that whatever the other stuff in the Old Testament, one thing that carries over as an enduring thing is that God disapproves of same sex genital intimacy. He does not want men lying with men and women lying with women, denying the natural use. When Paul uses the term "natural" or "unnatural", he is really meaning what is customary or uncustomary. It wasn't customary for men to have sex with men in the Jewish context

but he saw it in the Greek world. So he saw that as evidence of worshipping the wrong God, of idolatry. His reference, of course, is to exploitive same sex relationships among pagan Romans and Greeks. Paul certainly never contemplated the kind of monogamous, long-term relationships that are very much normal among homosexual people today. The Bible really doesn't deal with homosexuality because it has no concept of it. There were no Greek words, no Aramaic words, no Hebrew words for these concepts of human sexuality and therefore, the few references that have been lifted out of the Bible to be used in religious teachings to condemn homosexuality

really are inappropriate. The one thing I said was, "I can't do this to my dad." What his family is like was such an important part of his political life and I knew that being gay, being a lesbian,

does not fit in to the perfect political family. We have to fit the cookie cutter mould of the wedding dress and the man and the woman and have children and get married. I just remember thinking, "It's not even an option." People say, "Why didn't you come out earlier?" If something is no an option, you don't consider it. I said, "I'm just going to make this go away."

I came up with all these different excuses. It got to the point where I was so unhappy. I had sort of a moment where I was like, "If I want to be happy, it's going to mean losing my family." And that was the decision I had to make. I remember the phone call that Chrissy made to me saying that she did want to meet with us and sit down and talk with both of us about this. I met them at the restaurant and my mother said, "I think I know what this is about. I think that you and your husband, you and Mark, are having problems and I think that you're going to tell us that you're gay." I did have an inkling at that point. I knew that she had met this young woman and had strong feelings for her. She said, "There's something different about you when you're with her. You come to life." I said, "You're right. That's what I was coming here to tell you," and my dad was bawling. He proceeded to tell me how a parent will do anything to protect their child and that it's an unconditional love. Unconditional love, which is what I believe we have for our children, means exactly that - there are no conditions. And he was all emotional and he said, "You know, I love you no matter what. Mom and I will always be here for you no matter what." I mean, just hearing the words "We'll always love you," was the most amazing thing to hear

because I think that's what every child's fear is - that your parents will disown you. I mean, it's a real fear.

I mean, a lot of people... It happens to them.

It's tough but they just have to feel their heart and they have to feel that their child has to have their love, especially at this moment which is really hard for them because people are discriminated against. People are killed because they're homosexuals, beaten. I mean, as I walked out of the restaurant, the one worry I had was that Chrissy was going to face horrible discrimination now. But that just meant that we had to dig in harder and help more so that she could get through all that.

We spent a whole year basically living in the closet as a family. And so then we turned to my cousin who was a pastor and his reaction was, "Don't worry, Randi. Jake can change." And he set us up with a Christian counsellor and she told us that we shouldn't really accept Jake as a gay person because then he won't try to change. She was initially told by pastors that I could change.

I remember one day she brought me the male health book. It talked about homosexuality and how for some people, they could have phases in their life where they have same sex attractions and it doesn't necessarily mean they're gay. And she said, "Jake, could that possibly be the case with you?" They thought that maybe he thought he was gay but wasn't actually gay which I obviously disagreed with because I'd seen the pain that he had gone through in the year before. I mean, if he wasn't gay, there would be no reason to endure that. RADIO: This is Focus On The Family with psychologist and author Dr James Dobson. DOBSON: Now today, we want to talk about the prevention and treatment of homosexuality in boys. Focus On The Family is probably one of the most powerful Christian organisations in this country led by Dr James Dobson, one of the most well respected authors and radio commentators, reaching nearly 200 million people worldwide. DOBSON: Parents fear that their sons and daughters will become gay or lesbian. James Dobson got his beginnings by basically talking about parenting. He has no theological training whatsoever but he claims on the airwaves to be the lone interpreter of what is God's will for everyday families in America. So while he talks about raising children, he also talks about the destruction of the family by gays and lesbians. If the definition of marriage should change, the family as we know it will die and with it will go everything else that sits on that foundation... He's even gone so extreme as to say that gays are comparable to Nazis and how they will destroy the Christian foundation of this country.

James Dobson and Focus On The Family have a program they call "Love Won Out" and they also call it "reparative therapy". They say their aim is to prevent or to treat, to change homosexuality. DOBSON: Homosexuality is a preventable disorder and I still see it as a disorder. I have to tell you that as a psychologist, the idea that homosexuality is a preventable disorder is completely misguided. There is no scientific research to back it up. It's not a disorder any more than heterosexuality is a disorder. Dr Dobson tells parents that if your child tells you that he or she is gay or lesbian, then you should not say, "Well, that's OK." You should not try to accept them

but you should try to get them changed. That is exactly the opposite of what you should do. It's the way to devastate your child. It's not something that can be changed at will because it's inborn, it's natural. And to call it "reparative" is a misnomer because there's nothing to repair. The truth of the matter is there are tens of thousands of people who have come out of homosexuality. Religious conservatives will tell you that they know many, many people who have been through Love Won Out or reparative therapy and that they have stopped being homosexual. Well, you know, by instilling fear and shame in a person you can get them to suppress any feelings that they have. That's worlds away from changing somebody's sexual orientation. If you suppress that part of yourself, it's not without consequences and usually the consequences are very serious. In early 1996, Anna began to withdraw from me. There was no contact on mother's day of that year, which was very painful for me and finally in July I wrote her a letter and just said,

"What have I done? Whatever it is, I'd like to make it right." And her letter back to me was maybe even more difficult than her first one. It basically said that I had done colossal damage to her soul with my shaming words, that I was her mother biologically only, that she did not want to and did not have to forgive me, that she wanted nothing more to do with me.

So when the phone rang at ten o'clock at night, eight or nine months later, there was a part of me that knew what had happened.

Anna had committed suicide by hanging herself from the bar in her closet. She hung for about 15 hours before anyone found her. And that's the way it ended for Anna and me. She took her life before there was any reconciliation. It's estimated that every five hours an LGBT teen takes his life and for every teen that takes his or her own life, there are twenty more who try. One of the top five reasons why teenagers call us is for religious reasons. They're feeling there isn't a place for them and God. The church - because of its teachings that homosexuality is sinful, is wrong, is a perversion -

has essentially created the climate in which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children growing up,

feel very much in conflict with the world which they live. It really shapes the thinking so that they hate themselves, so that they internalise this judgment and condemnation. They're afraid to talk to their parents, they're afraid to talk to their peers about what they're going through and sadly, they resort to that irreversible decision which is suicide. Closets are a place of death. So many gay people are forced to live in two different realities - the world where they're pretending and then that closet world where they have all these fears and feelings of guilt and anger and shame. I think that's why "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is so important to the military and to the church. They'll let you serve as church organist or pastor or teacher as long as you don't tell. So once you don't tell, then you're cut off from all that confessing, all of that conversation, all of that interplay with others that makes you healthy. You know, I wanted to come out in high school. I wanted to be out,

I wanted to be the example of what it is to be a gay person to my peers because there was nobody out at West but my mother didn't want it, you know. He didn't share the same fear that we shared.

No, he didn't. You know, we tried to suggest to him that maybe he not come out until he got through high school and for Jake, that just wasn't an option. We both felt like we had to read and we had to go visit with psychiatrists and psychologists. We just had to know everything there was to know about homosexuality. And once we did that, we knew we had to be fighting alongside Jake. I am a very fortunate gay teenager. REPORTER: 'They are an unlikely group of militants - this suburban retired schoolteacher, her attorney husband and their 19-year-old son.' It is a blessing to have this gay son because it's opened our eyes. 'This weekend Phillip and Randi Reitan and their son Jake helped lead a protest outside their Lutherans synod's conference in Indianapolis. It is this church's stance that causes gay teens everywhere to be rejected by their parents.

It was my mother who initially got me involved into more of this serious "take it to the streets" type activism to fight to change the church and she has been on that track with a mission.

I just feel so sad for the Lutheran church. They had a chance to just make this bold statement - that God loves everyone - and they blew it.

REPORTER: 'The New Hampshire diocese of the Episcopal Church made some history this past weekend when it elected Reverend Cannon V Gene Robinson as its next bishop and Robinson is the first openly gay bishop anywhere in the worldwide Anglican community.' When Gene was elected, there was almost this sense of this just roar going down the aisle and enveloping you. And I remember thinking, "Oh, my God, this is huge. This is... This is exciting!" 'Next, Robinson heads to the Episcopal Church's general convention where his election must be confirmed.' APPLAUSE One of the most difficult parts about the general convention

was the press coverage. It was just, almost crushing to be under that kind of a spotlight.

MAN: I stand before you today in profound opposition to this resolution. And then, the morning after the clergy and laity consented to my election, allegations of sexual misconduct came forward and allegations of my being connected to a pornographic website. REPORTER: 'The news sent shockwaves...' REPORTER: 'The already controversial vote put on sudden halt...' There are only two allegations facing Robinson... ROBINSON: Both of which I knew were not true. What we didn't know was whether or not we could prove that they were untrue before the convention concluded. So for about 36 hours we had to hole up in our hotel room while these charges were being investigated

and all I could think about was my mother, sitting at home and seeing, you know, "Pornographic website, sexual misconduct." We knew that was wrong and the bishop of New Hampshire called us and told us that "There's going to be some news, but don't believe a word of it."

I think it certainly calls it into question. I think the bishops... They're going to investigate which they did

and I think maybe before the day was over it was false. It had clearly been engineered by conservative bishops and clergy and laity

to discredit me and to derail my consent. But of course, it turned out well, the charges were proven to be groundless... ..and I was consented to and the way was opened then for the consecration in November.

I want to say that I am incredible heartbroken by the vote today. The bishop who is to be a symbol of unity is going to become a symbol of disunity and a source of deep pain for millions of Anglicans. My main concern was someone killing him during the whole thing.

The death threats had already started. 'I hope that someone stones this faggot to death.' 'Hey Gene, how's the corn holing bishop doing, you son of a bitch.' GENE: Some were subtle and some were not subtle at all. 'You fornicating, lecherous pig.' 'If you had any courage, you would kill yourself like all queers.' 'The Holy Bible is the road to heaven

and God says, "Death to the faggots."' 'The one I remember most clearly was there was a photograph of me and Mark,

and what it said was, "I have a bullet for each of your heads when you least expect it." The consequence of homophobia is to stereotype gay people and then to define them in negative ways and once we do that we are able to treat them negatively and brutally. Fear does terrible things to a society.

When people are afraid, they have to find scapegoats and then they want to get rid of those people who are the bad guys. The cheapest way of getting the feeling that we're a group, a family, a something, is to make an other. And it's throughout history with all different groups, civil rights with the blacks and anti-Semitism with Jews,

to have an other, and homosexuals unfortunately are the new other. There's something about human nature to always look for an outsider, something that is different and something indeed that is different we do have tremendous fear about

and of course ostensibly we also have ignorance about it. Fear of the other probably had survival value at one time. If you were living in small, nomadic tribes, you might have a fear of other people. That's why we should, to some extent, have a sympathy for people who are prejudiced against others and see it's maybe a basically rational response to this deep, inbuilt thing in us. So you don't become equally prejudiced against the prejudiced. What you do is get them to see that their fear is now groundless. It's about fear not understanding what, really, love is about

and a component of love is sexuality. What do you think people are scared of? Well, sex can be very scary. I used to be very scared of it, I still am actually. The thing that frightens men about homosexuality is that they, they think about a man allowing himself to be treated like a woman and there's nothing worse, nothing so flying in the face of patriarchy than for a "privileged" man - "privileged" by being male rather than female - to allow himself to be treated like a female. Ugh! Who would want that? It is the hatred of women that is the fuel of this whole thing.

You look like a bunch of 5th grade sissies after a cat fight. When the coach wants to humiliate his team,

he calls them a bunch of girls. Why does that work? Because the worst thing you can do to a man is call him a woman. Men who are not men in whatever way the patriarchy wants us to be threaten masculine power and it's too much to bear. So if you combine our fear of the other,

our fear of sex and our fear of the feminine, homophobia is well-grounded in our psyche. REPORTER: 'They're victims of gay bashing...' REPORTER: '23-year-old Chris Miller was stabbed to death...' REPORTER: 'They realised it was a savagely beaten body of a young man...' It also legitimises violence and discrimination because the church teaches it's a perversion, it's wrong, it's sinful. It creates an environment in which gay people become victims, become abused. People feel empowered by violence against gays and lesbians

and they will always say, "It's in the Bible. I'm executing God's will." "I'm a soldier in the army for the Lord, I have to purge this l