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Wagging the dog.

I have a very different perspective on the "Born Different" campaign ["Spare Us the Puppy Love," September 12], and I wanted to share it with your readers.

First and foremost, it tackles a critical argument--the concept of whether sexual orientation is a choice. Bravo to Gill for doing research and confirming that in order for many Americans to change their attitudes about LGBT equality, they must first understand that one's sexual orientation is not a choice. Because so many of our LGBT leaders are so secular, they don't recognize that this is a key part of how people justify their religion-based bigotry.

Second, bravo for going to Colorado Springs. This is the capital of antigay strategic planning. Fifty-five fundamentalist Christian leaders met secretly in Colorado Springs in 1994 for the express purpose of planning how to deal with what they perceived as the problem of lesbian and gay Americans. Their number 2 goal was to prove to the American people that "homosexuality is not immutable." Focus on the Family and New Life Ministries have had an enormous impact in stifling our progress using this argument. Until we start telling their followers the simple truth, they will never know.

Yes, Gill spent a great deal of money. A significant portion of it was to do research and grassroots work. It was an investment in setting the stage for future work in the capital of bigotry.

The Reverend Jimmy Creech and I have made two trips to Colorado Springs in the past nine weeks to ascertain what was really happening with the campaign. I can tell you that very few allies feel it was a failure. Most thought it represented a real beginning of talking about the real issues.

MITCHELL GOLD via the Internet

As executive director of the Arcus Foundation and a board member of the Gill Foundation, I write to correct some information gaps in your editorial about two recent public education campaigns. The "Marriage Matters" ad campaign, supported by the Arcus Foundation and a coalition of national LGBT groups, was an attempt to show that the LGBT movement will not be stepped by short-term setbacks and that we have the broad support of a diverse group of allies. The advertisement ran in more than 51 publications.

The Gill-sponsored campaign about Norman, the dog that moos, is a clever research-based experiment to explore if public opinion truly moves when people believe that gayness is innate. It was piloted in Colorado Springs, where Gill has an office and where Focus on the Family is headquartered, precisely because it is one of the toughest areas in which to go up against the many myths the Right promotes about LGBT people.

As you know, both of these campaigns are quite controversial in our community--we do not all agree that homosexuality is innate, nor do we all agree that marriage is the primary issue on which our movement should concentrate. Yet I would maintain that both education campaigns are valuable and contribute to LGBT freedom. They are not examples to be pitted against each other but two examples of just some of the work we might do in the months and years ahead.

As someone involved with both efforts, I want to make clear that the Arcus Foundation and the Gill Foundation are working closely together in all our work--we see our missions as completely complementary.


[Find the full text of Urvashi Vaid's letter on]

I just finished reading your article on the campaign featuring Norman, the mooing dog, and I agree completely. As a gay man in Colorado Springs, I've heard lots of ridicule and very little understanding as a result of Norman. As one of my 5-year-old friends observed, "Dogs don't moo!" And so his ultraconservative parents use his innocent observation as ammunition against gay men and women. I love Tim Gill and all the good work he's done, but this one wasn't well thought out.

J. PARK Colorado Springs, Colo.

As an out resident of Colorado Springs for 30 years, I have seen firsthand the effect the "Moo" campaign has had on this community, and from my perspective it has done exactly what it set out to do--open a dialogue. All it was intended to do was trigger thought and open discussion, and in many ways it has personalized the issue as never before. But has it suddenly turned a lot of people around in their thinking? Most probably not--and that was not its expectation--but at least people are beginning to talk, and that is always the first step toward dispelling myth, ignorance, misconception, misrepresentation.

MARSHALL KEAN Colorado Springs, Colo.

This might be an appropriate reply to the Christian right's response to the "Born Different" campaign: Dogs don't moo? Well, lions don't talk. It's allegorical, stupid.

JASON METHENEY via the Internet
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Title Annotation:FROM THE READERS
Author:Metheney, Jason
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Oct 10, 2006
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