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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 23, 2005

State gets a new keynoter for 'abstinence' conference

Columbus--Anti-gays are complaining about the Ohio Department of Health�s decision to replace conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher with a less incendiary keynote speaker at its �abstinence-only� sex education conference in three weeks.

After receiving many complaints about Gallagher due to her anti-gay stands, lack of credentials and writing columns about a federal program while on its payroll, the health department cited �cost� as the reason to reject her $5,000 contract September 9.

Their decision inflamed abstinence-only-until-marriage advocates and revealed some of the anti-gay attitudes of their leaders.

Operation Keepsake, a suburban Cleveland abstinence-only think tank and materials vendor, accused the department of �values profiling� in the September 18 Plain Dealer.

Its director, Mary Anne Mosack, said that the department caved in to political pressure from a small but vocal minority of activists.

Mosack did not return calls for comment for this report.

Health department spokesperson Jay Carey said Gallagher�s replacement, Alma Golden, would cost nothing.

Golden is the deputy assistant secretary for population affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Golden�s noteworthy interaction with the LGBT community was earlier this year, when she authorized a section of HHS�s web site advising parents how to talk to their children about sex.

Originally, the section presented sexual orientation as a matter of choice and used the term �alternative lifestyle.�

The section also advised parents with LGBT children to take them to therapists that share the parents� values on sexual orientation.

Following objections from national LGBT advocacy groups, Golden had the web site changed, saying she was not aware that the initial form was insensitive.

The revision used the term �lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lifestyle,� and advised parents that �counselors and other health professionals may be helpful to both teens and parents when addressing difficult issues� of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Ohio health department will still pay for other conference speakers including anti-gay activist youth pastor Doug Herman; U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Deborah Price, who is the former director of the National Prayer Breakfast; U.S. Department of Education abstinence educator Jeff Trimbath, formerly of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services special assistant for marriage education Bill Coffin, who is formerly the marriage preparation coordinator for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington; and Governor Bob Taft�s faith-based initiative coordinator Christa Sisterher.

The conference is set for October 17-18 at the Columbus Hotel, formerly the Adam�s Mark, at 50 North Third St. in Columbus.

 

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