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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Follow up: Some good news out of Tennessee

Remember Zach, the Tennessee teenager sent to one of those "ex-gay" camps after coming out to his parents? Well, it seems the Christian-run concentration camp ... oops! I mean "ex-gay facility," is in danger of being shut down by the state of Tennessee.

Here are the details from The Washington Blade:

On Sept. 12, the state of Tennessee announced that its Department of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities had determined that Love in Action is operating two “unlicensed mental health supportive living facilities.”

“The [state] went in and visited and found that they were providing room, board and personal care for mentally ill people,” said Rachel Lassiter, deputy press secretary for Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). “The clients were determined to be mentally ill because some of them had been treated by psychiatrists and were on medication.”

It appears that Love in Action has taken on responsibility for the care of these people, Lassiter said, and unlawful operation of a personal support service is a class B misdemeanor in Tennessee.

Lassiter said the department sent a certified letter to Love in Action executive director John Smid, advising him that he must stop operating the homes or apply for a license within seven days. Smid did not respond to the letter, and a second letter was issued informing him that if he does not stop operating the homes or apply for a license by Sept. 15, the department would recommend that a cease and desist order be issued.

The latest news on the facility from the Associated Press reports that the state has given Love in Action International a week to either apply for a license or change its operation.

It's long past time that these facilities be investigated. They have preyed upon the self-loathing of a handful of gays and lesbians and the homophobia of parents with gay or lesbian children for too long. They have led to or worsened depression in their clients for too long. They have caused irreparable harm to vulnerable people for far too long.

More states should follow Tennessee's lead and launch investigations into these facilities ... and prosecute those that operate them to the fullest extent of the law when violations are found.