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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 29
Evangelism as Therapy - Faith-based advocacy should not be disguised as licensed healthcare
Section One
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Evangelism as Therapy - Faith-based advocacy should not be disguised as licensed healthcare

by Richard J. Rosendall - SGN Contributing Writer

Encountering the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg in the D.C. Council Chambers on June 27 took me back five years to our battles over the District's marriage equality bill. This time it was a hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. Sprigg was furious at the attempt to deny choice to troubled teens seeking to overcome their Gay desires.

One should always be skeptical toward right-wing busybodies who use 'choice' as a rallying cry, and so it is in this case. Gay and Lesbian teens whose ears are filled with cries of abomination know the sound of rejection. If choice is a concern, shouldn't they be given the choice of a supportive environment? And if professional therapy is the way to help, shouldn't we mention that homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973?

The anti-Gay groups represented at the hearing, including FRC, PFOX, and the International Healing Foundation, are frozen in amber on homosexuality, which they deem forever sick, sinful, and illicit. With the pathologizing and criminalizing of Gayness having ended in America, and with many faiths affirming LGBT lives, the dwindling band of demonizers resorts increasingly to shrillness and deception at home and proselytizing overseas.

The homophobes conceal their faith-based motivation behind a veil of pseudoscience. The trouble is, they dictate nature rather than observing it.

Testifying in support of the bill were the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Social Workers, American Counseling Association, and an array of local and national LGBT groups. Several pointed out that the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association have rejected conversion efforts. Affirming clergy included Rev. Graylan Hagler and Bishop Rainey Cheeks. Rev. Hagler criticized the use of counseling to advocate one's own religious views. Jud Brown gave eloquent testimony to his own survival of the discredited therapy.

The most frequent source cited by the anti-Gay side was the crackpot National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality. Time and again, problems were blamed on homosexuality in a way that is never done with heterosexuality. We were told that the proposed bill would bar counselors from helping troubled youth; but approved counseling protocols are unaffected by the proposed law. This is not about tying healers' hands, but protecting vulnerable minors and parents from being harmed and deceived by charlatans.

One of our opponents' recurring themes was how much they love LGBT folk. This is like the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine expressing love for the immortal soul of Giordano Bruno as he burned him at the stake in the Campo de' Fiori in 1600. Such love we can do without.

California and New Jersey laws similar to the one being considered in D.C. have been upheld in federal courts. Civil institutions are not subject to religious dictates. Church ministries are constitutionally protected, but no one is entitled to use a professional license to peddle poison brewed from ignorance and contempt.

It is not enough to say that being Gay is not a disorder. As Frank Kameny asserted before Stonewall, it is an affirmative good. When our opponents accuse us of corrupting science with political pressure, they are really objecting to the erosion of their supremacy.

The right's insistence on male-female complementarity as an exclusive, eternal standard ignores not only modern science but Plato's Symposium, in which people's 'other halves' were recognized as sometimes opposite-sex and sometimes same-sex. Gay love was present at the dawn of Western civilization.

Our struggle to protect LGBT youth is not over, as illustrated by the Texas Republican Party's recent endorsement of reparative therapy. Efforts like the #BornPerfect campaign by the National Center for Lesbian Rights are vital. But science, justice, and soulmates yet unjoined are on our side.

i>Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at rrosendall@starpower.net.

Copyright © 2014 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved. References:
'Testimony in Support of a Referendum on the 'Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,' Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council, before the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, January 27, 2010, http://dcboee.org/nws/upload_Files/Sprigg_Comments.pdf

'Testimony on Bill 18-0482, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,' Richard J. Rosendall, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, October 26, 2009, http://glaa.org/archive/2009/rosendallmarriagebilltestimony1026.shtml

'Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013,' D.C. Council Bill 20-501, http://tinyurl.com/ktx48lx

'Testimony in opposition to Bill 20-501,' Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council, June 27, 2014, http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF14F67.pdf 'Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults,' Caitlin Ryan, et al., Pediatrics 346 (2009), http://tinyurl.com/nkkparl

'LGBT-Sexual Orientation,' American Psychiatric Association, http://www.psychiatry.org/lgbt-sexual-orientation

Family Research Council, http://www.frc.org

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), http://pfox.org/default.html

International Healing Foundation, Staff listing, http://tinyurl.com/kt28uk5

Lawrence v. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003), Supreme Court of the United States, June 26, 2003, http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-102.ZS.html

'NARTH removes references to Scott Lively from website,' Warren Throckmorton, patheos.com, March 17, 2009, http://tinyurl.com/n9cuuse

'Homosexuality Is a Normal Expression of Human Sexuality, Is Generally Not Chosen, and Is Highly Resistant to Change,' American Academy of Pediatrics et al., Amicus Brief in United States v. Windsor, March 1, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/otnharg

'Reparative' and 'Conversion' Therapies for Lesbians and Gay Men,' National Association of Social Workers, January 21, 2000, http://www.socialworkers.org/diversity/lgb/reparative.asp

Testimony of David M. Kaplan, Ph.D., Chief Professional Officer and Past President of the American Counseling Association to the D.C. Council Committee on Health, June 27, 2014, http://glaa.org/archive/2014/acakaplanconvotherapy0627.pdf

Testimony on Bill 20-501, Saul Cruz, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, June 27, 2014, http://glaa.org/archive/2014/convotherapy0627.pdf

Testimony before the D.C. Council Committee on Health, Alison Gill, Human Rights Campaign, June 27, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mn5ahlg

'AMA Policies on LGBT Issues,' American Medical Association, http://tinyurl.com/825kqbw

'Insufficient Evidence that Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Work, Says APA,' American Psychological Association, August 5, 2009, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/08/therapeutic.aspx

Graylan Hagler, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graylan_Hagler

'Guiding Light: Gay activist and man of God, Bishop Rainey Cheeks preaches inclusiveness at Inner Light Ministries,' Randy Shulman, Metro Weekly, February 20, 2008, http://www.metroweekly.com/2008/02/guiding-light/

Testimony by Andrew 'Jud' Brown, Hearing on Bill 20-501, June 27, 2014, http://glaa.org/archive/2014/judbrownconvotherapy0627.pdf

'NARTH,' profile, Truth Wins Out, http://www.truthwinsout.org/narth/

'Giordano Bruno,' Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

'Federal court upholds California ban on 'ex-gay' therapy,' Justin Snow, Metro Weekly, August 29, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/nt3zmur

Sunnivie Brydum, 'Federal Court Upholds New Jersey's Ban on 'Ex-Gay' Therapy,' Advocate.com, November 9, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/nghlf7y

'Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny,' edited by Michael G. Long, Syracuse University Press, 2014, http://syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/fall-2014/gay-is-good.html

'Soulmate,' Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soulmate#Plato

'Texas Republican Party Adopts Discredited 'Reparative Therapy' for Gays,' Elijah Wolfson, Newsweek, June 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/lkrn8sj

'#BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy,' National Center for Lesbian Rights, http://www.nclrights.org/bornperfect/

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