LIA Sues TN: The Victim Strikes Back?

No surprise, Love in Action called on the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal defense organization, to help with the “ex-gay” programs current troubles with the state. Instead of admiting they might be doing something inappropriate, they’ve taken the victim role and are now suing the State of Tennessee.

This is harassment, pure and simple,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Nate Kellum. “There is no legitimate state interest here. There’s no health or safety violation, and there’s no fire code or overcrowding concern. Love in Action’s ministry has nothing to do whatsoever with mental health as defined by law, but the Department of Mental Health wants to regulate it anyway.”

I remember when in LIA we talked about the victim roles we often took as gay men. We were encouraged instead to take responsibilities for our actions, even when others wronged us. Christians often feel under fire by the world and as a result, often overlook the areas in which they have hurt others.

Using the victim role helps to garner sympathy, and in this case LIA wants to paint itself as little David with the big Goliath, in the form of the state of Tennessee, harrassing and taunting the Christian non-profit. Armed with legal aid from the ADF as well as the support and connections from the two largest Southern Baptist churches in Tennessee, LIA is not a weak little victim fighting for its life. This is the time for LIA to look at itself honestly and really question what it does and if it really provides the help its leaders promise.

Queer Action Coaltion has the full story and links. LIA also published a statement on their site.

This post has 15 Comments

  1. Scott on September 30, 2005 at 11:27 pm Reply

    I kind of welcome this lawsuit.

    If the state decides to make them back up their claims in a court of law, they’ll have to provide some sort of proof.

    So lets see those medical studies touting the effectiveness of LIA.

    Expert witnesses? Bring em on.

    Former clients, haul em into court baby!

    Lets get this show on the road and see exactly what LIA is really made of.

    (I also posted this comment at QAC)

  2. Anonymous on October 1, 2005 at 12:19 am Reply

    Will the trial be televised?

  3. Scott on October 1, 2005 at 12:39 am Reply

    Leave it to John Smid to be the victim now. He already has so many FI’s. It seems to be that now he now trying to manipulate the situation for his gain. None of these things surprise me. During the three years I spent at LIA, he “challenged” me on all these points. So is LIA trying to make people straight? It seems to have had the opposite effect on John. They do practice “therapeutic” principles. I have several e-mails and documentation to prove it. And now they don’t want to answer to the authority of others? I can’t even think straight now it makes me so angry. I hope the state will continue to try and shut them down. He and LIA are very dangerous to those who are in the program. They take your money and when you are no longer of any use to them they want nothing more to do with you. I hope LIA gets everything it deserves.

  4. Anonymous on October 1, 2005 at 5:10 am Reply

    Federal trials are not televised.

  5. Peterson Toscano on October 1, 2005 at 6:57 am Reply

    The Revolution Will Not be Televised but it will be blogged.

    Scott, you make an excellent point (I wanna give you positive credit–sorry a little LIA in joke that Scott and I share with the other LIA survivors).

    Should this go before a court, then the burden of proof is not only on the state of TN but on LIA. The “logic” that the ADF uses in its statements sounds dodgy at best (but so is the way of many legal arguments).

    The state definition of mental illness is clear and exists for a good reason. This is not about “ex-gay” ministry or any kind of Chrisitan ministry. It is about the responsibility of the state to protect the welfare of mentally ill patients, a population that gravitates towards LIA.

    The ADF’s claim that LIA operates a facility similar to a homeless shelter would be laughable if it wasn’t so sinister. Besides, what homeless shelter charges over $1500 per month in exchange for marching particpants through a 12-step prorgrams, group counseling and psychological harrassment?

  6. Willie Hewes on October 1, 2005 at 10:32 am Reply

    This is rediculous. From my blog:

    Think of it this way: these methods, group sharing, councelling, journalling,
    are all developed to interfere with the way the mind works. They are applied when the mind works in a destructive, unhealthy, negative way, by people who have the training and qualifications needed to apply them properly.

    Love in Action applies them to something that is not an illness, thinking, and getting their clients to think, that it is. It’s the equivalent of a minister with a set of scalpels and rubber gloves saying, “although liberal medical science denies it, we know the appendix is a tool of the devil and leads these people astay. It is our duty to help these people, because we are the only ones who will do what needs to be done!”

    Then the state health authority knocks on the door and says: “er, excuse me, are you operating on people here? We do think you need a licence for that, and some training, perhaps?”

    And the minister answers: “No, no, we don’t need a licence! You see, these people aren’t sick as the state defines sick! So we don’t need a licence for what we do. Now stop harrassing us.”

  7. abbyladybug on October 1, 2005 at 11:20 am Reply

    Unbelievable. Poor them. I’m glad they are being held responsible. I can’t imagine they’d win this case. They are violating the rules of the game. They aren’t properly licensed, and no self-respecting mental health association will license them to “treat” adolescents against their will for the “illness” of homosexuality.

  8. Bob Painter on October 1, 2005 at 1:11 pm Reply

    I was up at 1:00 a.m. last night reading the 29-page document filed by LiA. Shouldn’t have done that: made sleeping very difficult.

    I found some inaccuracies, but it was so late that I read instead of taking notes. (I plan on rereading everything today and taking notes.)

    Scott (By the way, HI!), like you I have keep pages and pages of materials from my LiA days–including my treatment plans. I would welcome their use by the state of Tennessee.

    The biggest shock to me was that LiA listed the street addresses of the group homes. We were threatened not to ever give out the addresses, and now they’re public knowledge!

    Does this mean that the houses are not operating? Was the program “shut down” yesterday or is LiA still operating without a license as they attempt to prove their lack of needing one?

    I was also struck by LiA’s comment that maintaining a license was too expensive for the nonprofit. Yet, according to public tax documents, John’s salary has increased significantly in the last several years.

    Is it cheaper to be forces to cease operations–which causes many financial woes for the program (loss of jobs, loss of income, etc.)–OR to obtain a license and be compliant with the law?

    It may be “repugnant” for LiA to fall under state jurisdiction as a Christian organization, but it is equally repugnant for other Christians to stand by and allow a certain sect of Christianity to make the rules/regulations for the rest of us.

    Perhaps I gleaned more at 1:00 a.m. than I thought I did…

  9. Annika on October 1, 2005 at 6:56 pm Reply

    Are you guys (Scott, Peterson, Bob – and also Jeff Harwood) trying to get in contact with anyone from the State to help with the lawsuit/investigation? I certainly hope so. You guys have invaluable first-hand knowledge/documentation of the situation there….

    Thank you for speaking out!

  10. Peterson Toscano on October 1, 2005 at 7:07 pm Reply

    Bob P, I like the idea of your eye on that document. Between you and Scott I think you can organize the State’s defense! Seriously, thanks for taking a look at it.

    I think we will need to talk to the state about some of the abuses we have seen at LIA as we began to discuss in this blog entry and the subsequent comments. Annika is right; these stories need to be told.

  11. Bob Painter on October 1, 2005 at 7:32 pm Reply

    Annika, I will call the state on Monday to see if they can use any of my old papers as evidence.

    I know it sounds silly, but I feel cautious about sharing everything I pondered when I read the court document through a second time today. I feel suspicious that someone is reading Peterson’s excellent blog (Petey, did I mention I need a favor?) and, should I share everything I think and know, that those with an opposing view might use the comments to build a defense.

    Anyway, should Phil Brown or others care to hear what’s on my mind, I’ll be happy to share it.

  12. Annika on October 1, 2005 at 7:48 pm Reply

    ” I feel suspicious that someone is reading Peterson’s excellent blog (Petey, did I mention I need a favor?) and, should I share everything I think and know, that those with an opposing view might use the comments to build a defense.”

    Bob, I completely understand this. I myself have been questioning some of the things I’ve written about my journey and my process – knowing how much they (RR, ex-gay movement, etc) like to pick and select a sentence here or there and twist the meaning…we see that in how FOTF, CWA, AgapePress, etc, takes published and public studies and twists the outcomes or the findings and presents it as fact…

    So I think you are not unduly paranoid. On the other hand, we have to speak our truth and not live in fear. It’s hard to balance those two…but I don’t think it should make us be silent.

  13. Anonymous on October 1, 2005 at 8:29 pm Reply

    I want to add, though, with regard to what all you know about LIA (details, specifics, etc), perhaps wait until you can get in contact with the State about the case…

    But regarding your own story, or what you think about LIA, I think you should still feel free to write what you want.

    Just my opinion. Don’t know if it is right or wrong! 🙂

    -Annika

  14. Annika on October 1, 2005 at 8:30 pm Reply

    I want to add, though, with regard to what all you know about LIA (details, specifics, etc), perhaps wait until you can get in contact with the State about the case…

    But regarding your own story, or what you think about LIA, I think you should still feel free to write what you want.

    Just my opinion. Don’t know if it is right or wrong! 🙂

  15. Bob Painter on October 2, 2005 at 2:07 am Reply

    Regarding the comment above, Paragraph 126 of LIA’s court document sounds as if they will no longer be operating after September 30th. Following is the paragraph:

    “As of September 30, 2005, and every day following thereafter, up and until legal relief is obtained, LIA is forced to forgo it’s [sic] religious mission.”

    But it appears the houses are still in operation…

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