A gay marriage supporter carries a sign at the 41st LGBT Pride parade in San Francisco
Newly released documents show the National Organization for Marriage aimed to create tension between the black and gay communities in order to prevent same-sex marriage. Reuters

Exodus International, one of the U.S.’s foremost "gay conversion therapy" groups, publicly announced Thursday it is closing up shop and quitting the gay conversion business, calling the practice “harmful.”

In an apology letter on the Exodus website, group leader Alan Chambers publicly apologized to the gay community, writing, “Our ministry has been public and therefore an acknowledgement of wrong must also be public.”

“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the church’s treatment of the LGBT community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” Chambers continued. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”

ThinkProgress reported that the board of Exodus International “voted unanimously” to shut down conversion operations, and will instead switch to helping churches develop healthier relationships with the LGBT community.

On its website, Exodus said it had been in gay conversion therapy trade for “over three decades.” Chambers wrote that the process that led to the decision to close up shop began three years ago when Exodus International was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network as part of a show called “Gods and Gays,” and Chambers wrote that he and his wife Leslie hoped to “keep having honest discussions in the hopes of arriving to a place of peace.”

Exodus International announced their closure on the same day the nation awaited a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. No decision was forthcoming.

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