- The Washington Times - Monday, October 26, 2015

An international conference on marriage and family is set to open in Utah on Tuesday despite criticism from gay rights groups that oppose its promotion of the “natural family.”

More than 3,000 people from more than 60 countries are gathering in Salt Lake City for the ninth World Congress of Families, organizers said.

Utah Gov. Gary Richard Herbert and first lady Jeanette Herbert are scheduled to appear at the conference, as well as Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who has participated in efforts to rescue women from human trafficking.

“We are truly an international, interdisciplinary and interfaith coalition,” Janice Shaw Crouse, executive director of the World Congress of Families conference, wrote in The Salt Lake Tribune.

“We set aside our cultural differences and our theological disputes to unite in support of the most basic of all human rights — the right to life — and the most basic of all human organizations — the natural family,” she said.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Elizabeth Smart, kidnap survivor and victims advocate; and Nick Vujicic, a motivational speaker who was born without limbs, will be among the nearly 200 speakers at the World Congress of Families, which runs Tuesday through Friday.

Gay rights groups have denounced the event as intolerant and accused it of fomenting hostile laws on sexual minorities in other countries.

Officials with the Human Rights Campaign held a news conference Monday that they said would “expose the destructive nature” of the World Congress of Families and highlight a British documentary titled “Hunted: Gay and Afraid,” which blames the World Congress of Families and its allies for anti-gay laws in countries such as Uganda, Russia and Slovakia.

The World Congress of Families issued a paper this summer saying the British documentary’s claims and other complaints about the organization were “baseless” and “misinformation.”

The World Congress of Families is not a lobbying group. It strongly opposes violence and has never advocated for laws that would harm, harass or disparage those choosing a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) lifestyle, said the paper, “A Call for Civil Dialogue and Constructive Engagement.”

Social science data show conclusively that “children do best in married families with a mother and father in the home,” Larry Jacobs, managing director at the World Conference of Families, said in the paper. Stating such a simple truth about marriage as a social good “does not demonstrate a lack of compassion” or stigmatize or shame people in other circumstances, he said.

The Deseret News said in an Oct. 20 editorial that the “accusation of hate hurled against” the World Conference of Families “feels like the guilty-by-association tactics used to demonize individuals in the McCarthy era” of the early 1950s.

The newspaper noted that two other conferences — the Family & Faith LGBTQ Power Summit and the Inclusive Families Conference — have been held this month in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City “is an excellent location for these conversations,” the Deseret News added, because Utah lawmakers have enacted a law that expands gay rights while securing important religious freedoms.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide