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Steve Case funds homophobes – by mistake

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Steve Case faces losing the Pink Pound after giving more than $8 million to a school owned by a religious group determined to "cure" homosexuals.

The AOL chairman and his wife Jean gave the cash to the Westminster Academy, a private Christian institution for elementary and high school students. The school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was set up by a Presbyterian TV evangelist, the Reverend D. James Kennedy.

The Rev's Coral Ridge Ministries believes in showing gays and lesbians the error of their ways by providing "a way out of the gay lifestyle for those who desire to change," according to its Web site.

Two years ago his organisation used its resources to fund full-page ads in newspapers that challenged the ideas that homosexuality was immutable and gays should be protected by anti-discrimination laws.

The $8.35 million donation, which reportedly came from private funds and not from the $125 million Case foundation, has caused anger in the US gay community. Elizabeth Birth, executive director of the country's biggest gay and lesbian advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, wrote to the AOL boss last week over her concerns. A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign labelled the Coral Ridge Ministries "a notorious anti-gay institution" in yesterday's New York Times.

Mrs Case issued a statement saying the cash, which was given more than a year ago, was intended for campus improvements and financial aid "for undeserved youth in the Fort Lauderdale area". It was not meant to benefit the crazies at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, apparently.

"In no way was the gift intended to send a message of intolerance," she said. "Steve and I strongly oppose discrimination in any form." ®

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