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"ex-gay" ministry under pressure by authorities

"ex-gay" ministry under pressure by authorities

The Memphis-based "ex-gay" ministry Love in Action International has so far failed to respond to Tennessee Department of Mental Health requests to comply with licensure as an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility. In late May, Zach Stark, a 16-year-old from Memphis, posted what appeared to be a cry for help on his Web log when his parents forced him to participate in an ex-gay program at the facility. His post created a firestorm of attention from people on both sides of the issue.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health, which oversees the operation of all drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in the state, issued two certified letters requiring Love in Action to apply for a license or stop operating as an inpatient rehabilitation facility. A spokesman for Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen says Love in Action received a second letter on September 8. Rachel Lassiter says that if Love in Action does not apply for a license or stop operating within seven days of receiving the notice, the Mental Health Department could issue a cease-and-desist order for the in-patient program, perhaps by Thursday.

Love in Action was not available for immediate comment on the pending cease-and-desist order. In the past a spokesman has said that the group was working with the department to resolve the licensing issue--but that as a faith-based group, it was not required to be licensed. (Sirius/OutQ)

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