Rekers latest anti-gay activist to be snared by gay sex scandal

WASHINGTON — Another anti-gay activist, another homosexual sex scandal.

WASHINGTON — Another anti-gay activist, another homosexual sex scandal.

Same-sex rights proponents in the United States were revelling in the news Wednesday that George Rekers, a prominent Christian scholar and “gay cure” crusader, hired a male prostitute for a 10-day European jaunt.

The Miami New Times, a weekly newspaper, confronted Rekers at the Miami airport with the man, who advertised on a sexually explicit gay website — rentboy.com — as a travel companion.

When first approached by the New Times, Rekers said he simply hired the man to carry his luggage because he’s recovering from back surgery. Later, in a Facebook message, Rekers said he was trying to educate his “travel assistant” about the evils of his way of life.

“Like Jesus Christ, I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them,” said Rekers, who has called the New Times article slanderous.

“If you talk with my travel assistant … you will find I spent a great deal of time sharing scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse, and I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him in great detail.”

The story is travelling like wildfire through the blogosphere, where Rekers is being accused of hypocrisy as the latest anti-gay public figure in the United States to become ensnared in a homosexual sex scandal.

What’s particularly compelling about this scandal, said Patrick Connors, who blogs about gay issues for SF Weekly in San Francisco, is the fact that Rekers has spent much of his career espousing the belief that homosexuals can be cured of their sexual orientation.

“Scandals like these are helpful because there are a lot of people who are easy to manipulate in this country,” Connors said in an interview Wednesday.

“And the more these kinds of scandals erupt, the harder it will be for them to be able to get away with their brand of chicanery.”

Rekers is the co-founder of the conservative Christian group Family Research Council and once testified in a Florida court case that adoption by gay parents would be damaging to the children.

In a piece he wrote for the St. Thomas Law Review, he compared gay foster or adoptive parents to drug addicts, terrorists and pedophiles.

He joins a long list of those on the religious and political right in the United States who have decried homosexuality or voted against civil rights for gays and lesbians only to become embroiled in a gay sex scandal.

In November 2006, tele-evangelist Ted Haggard, 53, resigned as the head of the National Association of Evangelicals after admitting “sexual immorality” and methamphetamine use. He entered extensive counselling following a male prostitute’s allegations that he was paid to have sex and do drugs with Haggard for three years.

Also in 2006, Republican congressman Mark Foley resigned in disgrace after news broke that he’d sent raunchy messages and e-mails for more than 10 years to teenaged boys in the congressional page program. Foley was one of the leading opponents of child pornography in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican Sen. Larry Craig also resigned in 2007 after soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in an airport bathroom. He had twice voted against adding the words “sexual orientation” to federal hate crimes laws, and also pushed to give states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage.

“I am not gay, I don’t do these kinds of things,” Craig famously said as the scandal emerged.

More recently, Republican Roy Ashburn, 55, a California senator from the conservative community of Bakersfield, admitted in March that he was gay after being arrested on drunk driving charges behind the wheel of his state car. He was apparently driving home from the Miss Gay Latina Sacramento pageant at a gay club in the city.

The divorced father of four frequently voted against gay rights legislation in California. He was put on probation for three years after pleading no contest last month to drunken driving charges.

Many of the men who have been involved in such scandals are over 50, and grew up in an era where there was still a stigma attached to being gay, Connors said.

“There’s certainly generational complications, but there’s also a great deal of religious conflict within the psyches of these people — their churches have told them it’s sinful and it’s wrong,” he said.

“But just as interesting is the financial enticement for a guy like Rekers who has participated in an industry — the ex-gay movement — that makes him money and is becoming more organized.

Several different pro-family groups are working together on such programs, Connors noted.

“They’re promoting the idea that you don’t have to be gay, because if you aren’t gay, you can get married, you won’t be discriminated against — they’re pushing this message that homosexuality is a choice, and some people are vulnerable to it.”