California bill targets consensual therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction
Correction: This article originally followed a report claiming that Senator Ted Lieu is “openly homosexual.” This is in fact untrue. Sen. Lieu is married to his wife Betty. We regret the error.
SACRAMENTO, May 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new bill that would hamstring therapy for unwanted homosexual attraction and label support for the effectiveness of such therapy “therapeutic deception” has passed its first hurdle in a California committee.
While banning outright such therapy for minors regardless of consent, Senate Bill 1172, introduced by Senator Ted Lieu and backed by Equality California, makes it an actionable offense for a mental health professional to conduct such therapy with a consensual client “by means of therapeutic deception.” The offense can be brought to court by “a patient, former patient, or deceased former patient’s parent, child, or sibling,” with an eight-year statute of limitations for patients and five years for relatives.
The bill defines “therapeutic deception” as “a representation by a psychotherapist that sexual orientation change efforts ... can or will reduce” homosexual conduct or desire.
The bill further requires psychotherapists to hand clients a disclaimer sheet that states: “Having a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a mental disorder. There is no scientific evidence that any types of therapies are effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation change efforts can be harmful. The risks include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.”
The disclaimer ends with a long list of mental health groups that “oppose the use” of such therapy, including the American Psychological Association. Although the APA discourages mental health professionals from offering sexual reorientation therapy, the group’s official position on such therapy states that there is “insufficient evidence” to either approve or discredit the practice.
The bill passed its first committee hearing last Monday on a 5-3 vote.
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Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), one of several groups who testified against the bill last week, said the bill’s anti-conservative bias was extreme even by California’s standards.
“I can honestly say this is one of the most outrageous, speech-chilling bills we have ever seen in California - and that’s saying a lot,” said Dacus, who told LifeSiteNews.com that the bill is “a child’s welfare issue.”
Dacus pointed out that clinical evidence has shown that sexual molestation and other trauma at an early age can lead to sexual confusion. “To deprive these young people of quality psychiatric counseling and therapy is a gross and outrageous violation against humanity,” he said.
Coupled with California’s recent legislation mandating that public schools use textbooks highlighting homosexual roles in history, Dacus said California’s legislators are waging an “egregious attack on children and youth.”
PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds also warned that the bill’s language on sexually-confused youths - that the state has a “compelling interest” to protect their health if they face “family rejection” - is especially alarming for conservative parents.
“The logical implication from these two assertions is that the state is giving itself the power to take kids away from parents who do not affirm the kids’ sexual confusion,” said McReynolds.
The attorneys pointed out that even the California Psychological Association, which normally embraces the gay rights agenda, is opposed to the bill in its current form based on its extreme speech restrictions.
Although it has been the subject of vituperative criticism from gay rights activists, therapy for same-sex attraction has been backed by many professionals in the mental health world - including the same scientist who first declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
A longitudinal study published last September found that a majority of individuals who persevered with sexual orientation therapy met with success, and that there was no increase in psychological stress associated with the therapy. The study backs the findings of a meta-analysis published in 2009, using over 600 professional and client reports published in peer-reviewed journals over a 100-year span, which concluded that homosexuality could be changed and that therapy to that end could be beneficial.
Homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) after a long-term lobbying campaign by gay rights activists. Because the DSM is the universal standard for mental illness classification, other top professional associations shifted against therapy for sexual orientation.
Dr. Robert Spitzer, who was in charge of the DSM change, reversed his position on therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction nearly 30 years later to support such therapy based on his own research.
The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) blasted the new bill as “a move of desperation” by gay rights activists hoping to snuff out sexual orientation therapy.
“For many years gay activists have been trying to convince the public the homosexual attractions cannot be changed. Since the evidence proves otherwise, they then moved on to trying to convince us that change therapies are ‘dangerous,’ but once again even the American Psychological Association agrees that no such evidence is available,” wrote NARTH.
“Now in what is apparently a move of desperation they are trying to accomplish through fines and sanctions aimed directly at individual clients and their therapists what they could not accomplish through misinformation.”
Despite the extreme nature of the bill, Dacus told LSN that therapists cowed by previous attacks against sexual orientation therapy by the state’s gay rights lobby are reluctant to speak up.
“Because of the heavy-handedness of the LGBT movement, many in the psychological profession are afraid to speak up,” he said. “We’re hopeful that the California Psychological Association’s opposition will inspire some to step up to the plate and testify against it.”
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