I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that a party which is opposed to science and so in favor of legislating (so-called) morality is promoting ex-gay conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy.” This weekend, 7,000 delegates at the Texas GOP Convention at the Forth Worth Convention Center ratified a platform which recognized the “legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.”
This “treatment,” not surprisingly, is so ineffective and harmful that it’s been discredited as junk science by every major medical and mental health organization. As the American Psychological Association says, “Despite the general consensus of major medical, health, and mental health professions that both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality, efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy have been adopted by some political and religious organizations and aggressively promoted to the public.”
Bipartisan efforts to ban ex-gay therapy (of minors) is another sign of just how abhorrent the practice is. Both California and New Jersey have passed laws prohibiting reparative therapy for minors. And last week, a judge ruled that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing may be liable for damages it inflicted on its clients subjected to ex-gay therapy. As New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. said, “JONAH’s conversion therapy damaged the individuals it was meant ‘to cure,’” and thus “any subsequent costs of repairing Plaintiff’s mental or emotional health are the direct and proximate result of JONAH’s actions and, hence, should be borne by JONAH.”
So, what damage does this therapy cause? A study conducted by Beyond Ex-Gay, a community for survivors of ex-gay conversion therapy, revealed that 92 percent of the people who had left the therapy experienced harm: 16 percent said it “devastated my life,” 31 percent said that they were “harmed a lot,” 22 percent said they stopped the therapy because they had nervous breakdowns. Eighty percent reported feeling shame, 79 percent emotional harm, and 72 percent depression. A particularly scary finding was that 41 percent of those who said they were harmed said the therapy made them feel suicidal.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Texas GOP’s other homophobic platform planks including, for example, opposition to “any government agency to force faith-based adoption or foster care organizations to place children with same-sex couples.” Totally predictably, the platform defines “marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman.” And while “homosexuals” shouldn’t be given any protections from discrimination, of course, homophobes deserve to be protected from the endless persecution they face: “We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”
The party did edit out one gem which had been written into the platform in 2012: “The practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit.” They replaced that with ”Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples.” Which is so much better! Said no one ever.