Christianity's Last Stand Against Gay Marriage Was in a North Dallas Office

David Pickup, founder of the Children's Center for Healthy Gender and Sexuality, discusses his approach to reparative therapy at Tuesday's launch of the "Real Marriage Movement."
David Pickup, founder of the Children's Center for Healthy Gender and Sexuality, discusses his approach to reparative therapy at Tuesday's launch of the "Real Marriage Movement."
Eric Nicholson

Attention homosexuals, sodomites and godless cowards who, through misplaced compassion or cowed silence, abet the gay destruction of the American way of life. Christians are sick and tired of being bullied, and they’re not going to take it anymore.

No doubt you’ve heard this rhetoric before. Lord knows there’s been plenty in the three weeks since the Supreme Court’s decision last month in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage, sealing America’s fate as a latter-day Sodom. Rarely, though, has the message been delivered in such a small room with such a disorienting blitz of hellfire preaching, discredited pseudo-science and wild-eyed hyperbole as it was on Tuesday morning in a cramped third-floor office overlooking Preston Road in Far North Dallas. There, a collection of African-American pastors and influential anti-gay activists inaugurated what they say will be a reprise of the Civil Rights movement, a nationwide campaign to push back against creeping gay rights and return the country to its Judeo-Christian roots.

The crusade began in a suitably backward-looking location, the headquarters of Children’s Center for Healthy Gender and Sexuality, a reparative therapy outfit. Though reparative therapy (i.e. turning gay people straight through some form of counseling) has been widely discredited, not least for treating homosexuality as a disease to be cured, center founder and psychotherapist David Pickup stuck to his guns, declaring that “there is now significant scientific evidence that there is no gay or transgender gene and that there is significant real-world anecdotal evidence that authentic change is possible.” Reparative therapy has been distorted by gay legal activists and the mainstream media, which focus on “grotesque interventions” respectable reparative therapists shun. His technique “is based on the unconditional positive regard for a client’s self-determination.”

“In short, as the case for many of my clients when the causes are healed, homosexual feelings can and do dissipate. In short, real reparative therapy is about unconditional love and the rise of the authentic self,” which happens to be heterosexual, he said.

Arranged shoulder-to-shoulder in front of an earth-toned wall, the assembled preachers and activists took turns decrying the homosexual lifestyle in general and the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage decision in particular as an abomination. At times, they seemed to be competing with one another to stake out the most retrograde position possible. Pickup’s speech was relatively restrained. Peter LaBarbera, president of an Illinois-based group called American for Truth about Homosexuality, urged conservative opponents of gay marriage to ditch their religious freedom arguments as not sufficiently aggressive.

“The homosexual activists have redefined gay, they’ve redefined love, they’ve redefined hate, and now they’re trying to redefine marriage, and lastly they will redefine freedom,” he said. "To fall back now to a mere defense of religious freedom is a mistake. We have to deal with the main issue in the debate, which is homosexuality, homosexual behavior and whether it is a healthy lifestyle — which it is not — [and] whether it is the basis for civil rights, which it is not. It’s an insult to every African American and other people in this country to say that the homosexual movement has anything to do with civil rights. Interracial couples produce beautiful families and children. Homosexuality cannot produce anything of itself.” (Later, in one of those rare but merry bits of happenstance that come with riding public transit, I spotted LaBarbera darting across a sweltering Preston Road in a business suit en route to lunch at Chick-fil-A, because of course.)

Steve Hotze, president of the Campaign for Texas Families and the Conservative Republicans of Texas, was also peculiarly focused on on one homosexual behavior in particular. “The issue is not about discrimination or equality; the issue is about redefining marriage, and if we redefine marriage it will force churches, schools families, businesses and individuals to accept, to affirm and even to celebrate those who participate in anal sex or anal sodomy. It would be mandated to be taught to the children in the schools at an early age starting in kindergarten. They will be encouraged by their teachers to engage in anal sex and homosexual activities so that the homosexual political movement can easily recruit children into their evil, wicked activities.”

The Reverend Bill Owens, a Tennessee preacher with a long history of inflammatory rhetoric against gay marriage and Chick-fil-A haters, then delivered a prepared statement about how the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell was worse than its decision in Dred Scott, its notorious 1857 ruling that African Americans can’t be American citizens.

“It is a disgrace that five unelected judges can overturn the votes of over 50 million Americans so that a few homosexuals can marry,” he declared. “These justices got it wrong like they did in the Dred Scott case. We stand with all Americans who resist this ruling, and we will follow Dr. Martin Luther King’s example. We will not obey any unjust law.” Asked to explain the parallels between Obergefell and Dred Scott, Owens reiterated that he felt they were both wrong. “The Dred Scott decision said that black people were not human that we didn’t have the rights of a person. And it was wrong. The Supreme Court ruled it. They got it wrong then and they got it wrong now.”

Tuesday’s gathering had a purpose beyond mere pontification. It was also the inaugural public event of the “Real Marriage Movement,” a concerted push to, in Pickup’s words, “bring America back to itself, which means back to the Judeo-Christian ethic.”

“I believe that there’s a silent majority that’s just waiting to speak up,” he said. “Well, if we’re honored enough to be one of the catalysts for a major tidal wave the other way, that’s why we’re here.”

The only concrete plan of action announced on Tuesday involved meetings, including a “World Conference on Gender, Sexuality and Marriage” to be held in Dallas. Some form of direct action will follow, targeting “some big nationwide organizations” that Owens declined to disclose but which “say they are family friendly, depend on the family for their business” but which are “giving in to this ungodly way of making homosexuality like it’s natural — it’s highly unnatural!” He also declined to name elected officials the fledgling group intends to target, other than to describe them as “weak-kneed, slimy-backed politicians who pretend to be with you but will not stand up.”

Consider yourself warned, America.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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