Governor Jerry Brown’s Decision to Ban Conversion Therapy in Ca. Upsets Critics
Starting January 1, 2013, sexual conversion therapies, also called reparative therapies, will be outlawed in California for minors. Governor Brown calls this therapy unscientific with no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
The law states that licensed mental health providers ”shall not provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation including efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions of to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
Often run by religious groups with names like Journey Into Manhood or People Can Change, these pray-away camps appeal to Christian thought that homosexuality is sinful. Conservatives, opposed to gay marriage and the “gay lifestyle” defend these organizations that believe that homosexuality is a “choice” and can be overcome. Is the theory political or scientifically based?
Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group, believes that reparative therapy is junk science being used to justify religious beliefs that homosexual urges can be banished.
Nature vs. Nurture
Although the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations disapprove of reparative therapy, it is still practiced by a handful of therapists who believe that homosexual desires result from early childhood wounds.
The director of the largest reparative therapy clinic in the world, Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinical in Encino, California , Joseph Nicolosi, argues that “all people are heterosexual but some have a homosexual problem, and some of these people attempt to resolve their conflict by adopting a sociopolitical label called ‘gay.’” If you unearth family trauma such as a distant father and an overbearing mother or child abuse, you can bring change not only in sexual desire, but maybe even a permanent cure.(see http://”Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t be Changed.” New York Times, 11/1/12.
Last April, conversion therapy was dealt a blow by Robert L. Spitzer, author of a study eleven years-old that purported that gays could change their sexual orientation. He said his study was invalid. In June 2012, the president of Exodus International, the largest Christian ministry for homosexuals, Alan Chambers, said that it was futile to try to change same-sex attraction and it seldom works.anyway: “99.9 percent of people Chambers has encountered in twenty years with Exodus were not able to completely rid themselves of same-sex attraction.
Permanent Cure or Temporary Healing?
Some men who attend these retreats, and partake of reparative therapy, claim the switch works. Says “Jeremy S., 34, a corporate contract officer in Dallas, “ that from his teens until three years ago he lived as a gay man. It wasn’t working for me.” After two years of therapy with Dr. Nicolosi, Jeremy claims his attraction to men was” practically diminishing.” He has not had sex with a man for more than two years and does not think about it more than once a month, adding that his Catholic faith has also deepened.
However, gay rights groups say the therapies cause emotional harm which in some cases has led to depression, even suicide.and certainly anger, hopelessness, and guilt among its patients.
Lawsuits Already Filed: Violation of Free Choice
The lawsuits are being filed on behalf of therapists whose practices include reducing same-sex attraction and changing their sexual orientation, parents who have enrolled their children in reparative therapy as well as the teenagers who are undergoing it.
Does the law infringe on The First Amendment and equal protection rights of individuals to give and receive information that matches their personal and professional beliefs? Will it cause harm to those who claim they need and want the therapy?
What are the long-term effects of subjugating same-sex desires?