FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Basic Fact Remains That PFOX’s Greg Quinlan Fabricated Two Stories to Smear Truth Wins Out
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Truth Wins Out expressed disappointment today that its defamation lawsuit, Wayne Besen vs. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gregory Quinlan, was dismissed by the United States District Court in Richmond because Besen was deemed a “public figure,” which raises the bar on proving malice in defamation lawsuits. While TWO disagrees with the ruling, it does nothing to negate the original charge that PFOX’s Greg Quinlan fabricated two stories in an effort to smear Truth Wins Out and Besen, asserts TWO.
“We disagree with the ruling but knew it was an uphill battle given the extremely high bar set to win a defamation lawsuit for people determined to be public figures,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “However, we are proud of the fact that we hauled PFOX into court for its blatant lies, stood up to Quinlan’s odious smear campaign, and we would not hesitate do so again in the future.”
Quinlan’s first lie occurred on October 7, 2011 when Quinlan was interviewed on News-Plus with Mark Segraves (WDCW-TV). At the 10:38 mark of the show, Quinlan fabricates an alleged hit on his life. According to Quinlan:
“Truth Wins Out if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He’s asked for people, you know, somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS. Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me. That’s pretty hateful rhetoric.”
Quinlan’s second lie occurred when he falsely claimed that Besen was fired from the Human Rights Campaign, where he served as Deputy Director of Communications from 1998-2003. In reality, Besen left HRC after five years on good terms to pursue a new career opportunity. A letter from the Human Rights Campaign unequivocally proving Quinlan lied was included in our lawsuit.
According to the court ruling: “A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint….[I]t does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses. So-called “public figure” plaintiffs-individuals “involved in issues in which the public has a justified and important interest”- are held to an even higher standard.”
The publication Courthouse News wrote: “As the Fourth Circuit has observed, ‘establishing actual malice is no easy task, because the defamation plaintiff bears the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence.”
While the lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality, TWO says that PFOX has yet to defend itself in the court of public opinion and prove that Greg Quinlan had not lied. This is a rather tenuous position to be in for an organization that purports to represent wholesome Christian morality and family values.
“Let’s be crystal clear that the outcome of this case did not exonerate Greg Quinlan from our central charge that he outright fabricated his story of me asking people to kill him,” said TWO’s Besen. “I strongly reiterate my call for Quinlan to take a polygraph or a No Lie MRI to prove his innocence. Why is he so afraid to take up this straightforward challenge? What is he hiding?”
The following is a statement by Truth Wins Out’s attorney Michael Hamer:
“The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, has dismissed Wayne Besen’s defamation suit against Greg Quinlan, President of PFOX and PFOX itself for outrageous and unfounded statements made by Quinlan last year. The key to the result was the court’s finding that Besen is a “public figure” which triggers a very high burden to prevail in defamation cases. As the Court noted, “so-called “public figures’ plaintiffs…are held to an even higher standard…The New York Times standard is a difficult one for libel plaintiffs to meet and its application may sometimes produce harsh results.” In TWO’s view, this dismissal is one such harsh result.
Besen and TWO continue to believe that Quinlan’s statements were knowingly false. However, as the court further noted in its finding that Besen is a public figure, Besen and TWO have sufficient access to media avenues and other means to address and refute the falsehood of Quinlan’s statements. While the Court’s decision was not totally unexpected given the current case law surrounding public figures, Besen and TWO believe that filing the legal action was still the right course of action to underscore the falsity of the statements made against Besen. Besen and TWO will continue to work to expose the falsehood not only of Quinlan’s statements but the entire ‘ex-gay’ myth promoted by PFOX and its financial backers. This task will be made easier in light of Dr. Robert Spitzer recent recantation of his 2001 study that PFOX so frequently likes to cite to support its snake oil.”
To see the dishonesty of PFOX, one has to look no further than the Homepage of its website. On the bottom right-hand side is video from Dr. Robert Spitzer asserting that some gay people can go from gay to straight, even though Spitzer has now disavowed his study. Right below that is a “Certificate of Appreciation” from the District of Columbia, even though the former mayor, Adrian Fenty said in 2010 that the “honor” was a clerical error.
PFOX’s former board President, Richard Cohen, was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethics violations.
Convicted felon Arthur Abba Goldberg runs the group’s speaker’s bureau. The late Anthony Falzarano, who had derisively referred to hate crime victim Matthew Shepard as a “predator to heterosexual men” founded PFOX. He once told CBS News, “AIDS comes from the devil, directly from Satan. He uses homosexuals as pawns and then he kills them.” Quinlan, the current board President, calls homosexuals claimed that while he was an out of the closet as a gay man he wasn’t “a limp wristed, flaming faggot.”
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.