GMA featured Zach, and had a voice actor readingly directly from the MySpace blog while the words scrolled across the screen. They had a clip from Zach’s father stating his beliefs about homosexuality, and quoted Rev. Smid regarding the Refuge program. They also had Dr. Drescher on the program, but allowed him to speak about the dangers associated with reparative therapy camps, and noted that the APA condemns reparative therapy.
The end of the segment included a debate between CNN-featuree Brandon Tidwell and Refuge graduate Gerard Wellman regarding the effectiveness or dangerousness of the program. Before the debate began, it was noted that Gerard is on the payroll at Refuge.
Brandon had a lot more to say in the live TV broadcast than he did on the edited CNN segment; his first statements regarding the program were that it “breaks you down, and destroys your identity.” He also stated outright regarding the Refuge program, “Yes, absolutely it’s wrong.” When questioned about Rev. Smid’s claimed 65% success rate, he explained that Love in Action does not have the research to back up their statistics.
Gerard, on the other hand, repeated a number of talking points regarding the Refuge program, including the “hundreds of thousands of people like me” statistic. He explained clearly that Refuge does not change one’s attractions, but puts “guard rails” on their behavior. Gerard repeated almost verbatim from Smid’s previous comments that “…there are no guards, no locked doors, nobody is forced to be there.” In reply, Brandon noted that leaving the program would have a vast number of negative consequences for teens from their parents and community, and that “You can’t just pick up and leave any time you want!”
ABC stated that Zach is to be released tomorrow.