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Religious-right leader ensnared in gay travel-assistant scandal threatens suit

George Alan Rekers, the co-founder of the Family Research Council who has admitted hiring a gay man as a travel assistant for a trip to Europe (Rekers claims that he did not know the man was gay), is threatening to sue for defamation. He aims his fire at the Miami New Times, which broke the story.

"If today’s news story in the Miami New Times is accurate," said Rekers in an e-mail to me, "I have been advised to retain the services of a defamation attorney in this matter, because the fact is that I am not gay and never have been."

Here's the rest of Rekers's response to the Miami New Times, including his version of what happened in Europe, which he says both he and the prostitute agree on. "My travel assistant did in fact lift my luggage each time it was necessary," says Rekers, adding that he "did not hire him as a prostitute for sexual services" and "explained the Christian faith" to him.

My travel assistant called me this afternoon earnestly asking me to clarify on my website that he worked for me as a travel companion and not as a prostitute. I completely agreed with my travel assistant that it is absolutely true that I hired him and he worked for me as a travel companion and not as a prostitute. I also read to him the first sentence that has been posted on my website for several days that says, “A recent article in an alternative newspaper cleverly gave false impressions of inappropriate behavior because of its misleading innuendo, incorrectly implying that Professor George Rekers used the Rentboy website to hire a prostitute to accompany him on a recent trip.”

Two days ago a professor friend of mine recommended that I ask my travel assistant to send me an email saying what happened on the trip so I could post a statement on what we agreed on. When I called my travel assistant to ask if he would write a statement to me, he asked me to send him questions to remind him of what topics about our trip he should write to me about, which I did on May 4.

Here are the four questions that I sent my travel assistant at his request two days ago, together with the answers we agreed on in our phone conversation this afternoon:

1. Did Dr. Rekers in fact hire you to lift my luggage when necessary as a travel assistant during the trip, because I cannot do so myself since I had surgery?
Together we agreed that I in fact hired him to lift luggage when necessary as a travel assistant during the trip, because I cannot do so himself since having surgery. We agreed that this is what my travel assistant agreed to do for pay prior to taking the trip.

2. Did you in fact lift my luggage during the trip each time it was necessary, or did Dr Rekers lift his own luggage during the trip?
We agreed that my travel assistant did in fact lift my luggage each time it was necessary, that I did not lift my luggage, and my travel assistant did all the lifting.

3. Did Dr. Rekers hire you as a prostitute for the trip?
We agreed that I hired him as a companion and to help with luggage, and that I did not hire him as a prostitute for any sexual purpose.

4. Did Dr. Rekers spend time explaining how the Christian faith is based in love to you during the trip?
We agreed that I explained the Christian faith to my travel assistant in conversations on several days during the trip.

By David Weigel  |  May 6, 2010; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Gay  
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