Group called anti-gay gets its time
AMERICAN FORK - Standard of Liberty didn't get its audience before American Fork High School's PTSA as scheduled last Thursday.
That didn't stop it from taking a presentation to the American Fork Library Monday night, however - nor did the presence of two representatives from the Utah Pride Center, who listened quietly in preparation for an April 9 response meeting they will host in the same library room.
Even with the steam of controversy generated by American Fork High School's decision to cancel the group's presentation last week, only a small audience attended Monday.
The same couldn't be said for the media, who had outnumbered the public at the library before a few curious onlookers entered to even the balance. The result was a polite gathering of opposing sides in the debate over gay and lesbian rights, even if the small public crowd seemed tense in the middle of media attention that included several television cameras, photographers and reporters.
Standard of Liberty, a Pleasant Grove-based organization billing itself as "an LDS-oriented educational corporation" ringing the warning bell against "sexual activist movements overrunning America's Christian-moral-cultural life," planned to bring its message to American Fork parents as long ago as last November after an invitation by American Fork PTSA president Belinda Jensen. Principal Carolyn Merrill canceled the group's presentation last Thursday when she learned the group would speak about gays and lesbians without her knowing the context of the discussion.
Following a short lecture against pornography by John Gunter Jr., of Citizens for Families, Standard of Liberty co-founder Stephen Graham began with an account of how his son overcame gay tendencies after counseling, then screened individual film segments detailing the "gay agenda," "gay demands" and "gay agenda in schools." Laced with comments from American conservative pundits, the segments juxtaposed footage of gay rights marches and activists with images of young children.
"We put warning labels on cigarettes," said Graham, who told the audience young gays and lesbians do not exist. "But we won't let people warn our children about out-of-bounds sexual behavior that could endanger their lives."
After listening to Graham's presentation, Utah Pride Center spokeswoman Yana Walton said she was disturbed by Standard of Liberty's "fear-based tactics" casting gays and lesbian as sexual predators and "recruiters" of the young, noting that the majority of child sexual predators are heterosexual.
"We don't have an agenda," Walton said. "We have a goal that every child has a family that loves and values them."
Graham, who shook hands with Walton before his presentation, said he wasn't offended by her presence. "They came to hear what I had to say."