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Fr. Mark Hodges

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New Mexico bans therapy for minors with unwanted gay attractions

Fr. Mark Hodges

SANTA FE, New Mexico, April 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — New Mexico has become the sixth state to criminalize any professional counseling that helps minors overcome unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez signed SB-121 into law on Friday. The law bans doctors, nurses, and licensed therapists from any attempt to talk to clients about recovering from gay temptation. It also prohibits any professional from helping a boy accept that he is a male or a girl accept that she is a female.

The law, which was passed by the Democratic-led state legislature last month, defrocks any therapist who uses "discredited" methods. The legal presumption is that reparative therapy is a "discredited" approach to counseling minors suffering from unwanted homosexual thoughts.

Gov. Martinez said she was acting in the best interests of children by signing the bill and cited the American Psychological Association’s conclusion that same-sex attraction is not only normal, natural, and healthy, but anyone suggesting otherwise is harming patients.

"I do not lightly enact legislation that makes government a party to the medical care decision-making of a parent and child," she explained. But "reputable medical organizations like the American Psychological Association have rebuked this practice, stating it may lead to depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, self-hatred, substance abuse and suicide."

The bill states that it is now "unlawful," under penalty of losing one's license, to "provide conversion therapy to any person under 18 years of age in exchange for monetary compensation." The only persons legally excepted from the ban on attempting sexual orientation change, at least for now, are clergy.

The bill was introduced by Democratic state Sen. Andrew Romero and openly homosexual state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who called reparative counseling a "dangerous practice" offered by "snake oil peddlers."

“This is an incredible victory for LGBTQ youth in New Mexico,” Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said.

Republican State Rep. David Gallegos spoke against the bill, saying youth should be able to freely choose to try to overcome unwanted homosexual tendencies. "If some are willing and wanting to change, why should the state take away their right to get help?" he asked.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) Executive Director Regina Griggs agreed, saying reparative therapy bans violate the freedoms of those who choose to try to overcome unwanted gay feelings. "No one should be prevented from getting the help they want, and our society should allow every child and every person the freedom to be whoever they aspire to be," she said.

"We know that change is possible," Griggs added, "and sometimes, talk therapy is the path that leads to a journey of hope for change and help to overcome unresolved feelings."

Dr. Christopher Doyle, an ex-gay licensed clinical professional counselor, defended Christian counseling, saying, "I have worked with hundreds of parents and teenagers struggling with sexual and gender identity. Not once have I ever allowed a parent to force or manipulate their child to change."

"As a former homosexual and licensed psychotherapist ... I understand that same-sex attractions and gender confusion are the result of many underlying factors; and when parents heal the wounds and work through dysfunctional patterns within the family, relational and emotional healing occurs with the child," Dr. Doyle said. "In some cases, this results in a redefinition or new understanding for the child struggling with sexual and gender issues — even a change in the way he or she identifies."

California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington D.C. have also criminalized reparative therapy for minors, whether the individual desires it or not. Colorado, Massachusetts, and Virginia voters have turned down similar legislation.

The Supreme Court has had three opportunities to address challenges to such bans but left them unanswered, allowing bans against Christian counseling to stand.

The Trump administration has not yet weighed in on the controversy, but Vice President Mike Pence, while running for Congress 17 years ago, advocated that tax dollars "be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." He said funds for reparative therapy could come from tax dollars going to "organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus."

Pence also campaigned in 2000 to disallow homosexuals to serve in combat. "Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion," his campaign website explained.

Campaigning in the pre-Obergefell era, Pence opposed "any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage," and opposed anti-discrimination laws making homosexuals a specially protected class.



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