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news: Tennessee Orders LIA/R To Close On Friday, 09/23/2005

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    http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/09/092005exGay.htm Ex-Gay Ministry Ordered Closed by The Associated Press Posted: September 20, 2005 3:00 pm ET (Nashville,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 20 1:57 PM
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      'Ex-Gay Ministry' Ordered Closed
      by The Associated Press
      Posted: September 20, 2005 3:00 pm ET

      (Nashville, Tennessee) The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and
      Developmental Disabilities has ordered the closing of what it calls
      two unlicensed personal care facilities run by a Christian group that
      claims to counsel gays to give up homosexuality.
      The state inspected two facilities in Memphis on Aug. 19 and
      determined Love In Action International Inc. was providing housing,
      meals and personal care for mentally ill patients without a license,
      according to a subsequent letter to the organization from the
      Department of Mental Health.

      The department gave Love In Action until Sept. 23 to cease operation
      of the facilities and apply for a state license.

      Love In Action spokesman Gerard Wellman declined to answer questions
      about the state's allegations.

      "We will be commenting when the time is right," or when the case is
      past its initial stage, Wellman said.

      Lawyer Nathan Kellum responded to the state on Sept. 14 with a letter
      acknowledging Love In Action had received the state's notice and
      promising to respond fully by Sept. 23.

      "The issue is these being supportive care facilities," state
      spokeswoman Lola Potter said Monday. "Supportive care must be licensed."

      Former Love In Action client Peterson Toscano said Monday that a house
      manager for the program told him one of the manager's responsibilities
      was dispensing drugs that had been prescribed for participants.

      "He told me that it was to keep people from misusing the drugs," said
      Toscano, who is now a writer and performer living in Hartford, Conn.

      Under state regulations, facilities that dispense medication to
      patients require a license.

      The Love In Action facilities were still in operation Monday, Potter said.

      If the organization were to continue operating the facilities past the
      Sept. 23 deadline, it would face criminal penalties that include fines
      of up to $500 and six months in jail for each day the facilities are
      determined to be in violation of state laws, Potter said.

      The Department of Mental Health's current action is not the first time
      Love In Action has drawn the state's attention.

      Earlier this year the Department of Children's Services investigated a
      child abuse complaint against Love In Action that was found to be
      unsubstantiated. (story) The complaint stemmed from a Web logger going
      by the name of "Zach" who said his parents were sending him to a
      religious organization that would try to convert him to
      heterosexuality. (story)

      The teen identified himself as a 16-year-old from Bartlett, Tenn., and
      said his parents "tell me that there is something psychologically
      wrong with me. ... I'm a big screwup to them, who isn't on the path
      God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears ... and I can't
      help it."
      In August the Department of Health determined the group did not need
      to be licensed as a drug and alcohol treatment program.

      John Smid, Love In Action's executive director, said then that his
      group does not provide psychological, drug or alcohol counseling, but
      seeks to help people overcome sexual problems through a stronger
      Christian faith.

      Counseling that would be regulated by the state is "really not our
      focus," he said.

      Love In Action's work, particularly with teenagers, has drawn protests
      from gay rights advocates.

      ©365Gay.com 2005
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