Group opposing homosexuality plans conference in Utah

An international group that opposes homosexuality is planning its first worldwide conference in the U.S. next year which will be a four-day gathering in Utah. It has become a focal point in the gay marriage movement.

The Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families has a couple dozen partner organizations, including the Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America. The group brings together people of different faiths and ethnicities to promote the “natural human family,” which the website says consists of a man and woman raising children with love and discipline.

The organization had to cancel the intended international conference in Moscow due to turmoil related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

It chose Salt Lake City for its 2015 gathering over St. Louis and Atlanta because it is considered an international city with experience hosting the Olympics, said Larry Jacobs, the managing director. The conference is expected to draw 3,000 people

The Sutherland Institute, a public policy think tank that advocates for conservative values, put in the bid and is leading the planning, Jacobs said. The World Congress of Families also will hold a smaller conference in Salt Lake City this fall as well.

Previous events have been in Madrid, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Poland, Mexico City, Geneva, Sydney and Prague.

Gay rights activists have won 18 total cases in federal and state courts across the country since the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last summer.

Utah became one of the focal points for the gay marriage movement after a judge threw out its ban in December. An appeals court recently upheld that ruling and the state still plans to appeal.

“To say the World Congress of Families chose North America because of the momentum of the gay marriage movement would be oversimplified,” Jacobs stated. He also recognized that the natural family is under attack in the continent.

“Same-sex marriage is just the most recent issue that’s come out of the sexual revolution and the radical sexual left, which would like to focus on individual sexual pleasure as the ultimate human goal,” Jacobs further said.

The Human Rights Campaign, which supports gay rights and gay marriage, is an outspoken critic of the organization in general. Ty Cobb said the World Congress of Families is a network of ‘extremist groups’ that has been working to promote anti-LGBT legislation abroad, including in Russia and several African countries, where they have proven to have found some measure of success.

He also called Salt Lake City a strange choice for the worldwide conference.

“Whatever the World Congress of Families may believe in their head about the values of people of Salt Lake City, they are wrong,” Cobb stated. “The values of the people of Salt Lake City are ones that promote inclusivity.”

The World Congress of Families opposes homosexuality and abortion and is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups for its views.

The organization doesn’t partner with religions, but communications director Don Feder said there are certainly members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among its donors.

The Salt Lake City event’s theme likely will be religious liberty in keeping with the founding of the city, Feder stated.

“We’ve always believed faith is one of the underpinnings of the natural family,” he said.