PFOX files an amicus brief

Timothy Kincaid

September 23rd, 2010

Oh you knew it had to be coming. When Judge Walker found that orientation was an immutable attribute, you just knew that PFOX had to present their wackadoodle ex-gays as proof he was wrong. They pair up with Desert Stream Ministries in an amicus brief which extols “the transforming power of Jesus Christ to heal those struggling with unwanted sexual attractions or behavior” and offers “the realistic hope that individuals with same-sex attraction can choose a course of action that enables them to identify and live as whole-enough heterosexuals.”

The sole issue addressed in this brief is whether same-sex attraction is a fixed and immutable characteristic like race. This issue is critically important because, if a court were to erroneously decide that same-sex attraction is an immutable characteristic, as the district court has in this case, a tribunal in the future might be led to further conclude that homosexuals are a “suspect class” for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause. Such an erroneous conclusion would improperly subject laws like Proposition 8 to “strict scrutiny” rather than the existing legally appropriate “rational basis” review.

The specifically object to the following three of Judge Walker’s findings:

44. Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person’s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents’ assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.

45. Proponents’ campaign for Proposition 8 assumed voters understood the existence of homosexuals as individuals distinct from heterosexuals.

46. Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.

They argue instead that “sexual orientation is a complex and amorphous phenomenon that defies consistent and uniform definition” and that it is a “mutable characteristic which can shift over time and does so for a significant number of people.” They assert that “both the evidence at trial and the evidence embodied in
this brief clearly show that many people freely choose and change their sexual orientation.”

Now, I dare say that it probably is easier at times to define a person’s sexual orientation than it is their race, especially in California. And if the number is so significant or the choosing so free, than why do they present the same handful of people over and over?

Ah, but PFOX has evidence. To prove that there are thousands of men and women who have successfully left “unwanted homosexuality” behind them and who now “live happy heterosexual lives”, they present four:

Richard Cohen: In that instant, the connection between my childhood abuser and I was cut, and I became free for the first time in my life. With that sense of freedom, I sobbed for about an hour in David’s arms. It was such a release and relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for what had happened and that God had forgiven me. In those moments of release, I found my freedom from same-sex desires. Cutting this neurological connection to the sexual desires freed me from thirty years of relentless pain and an endless pursuit of men.

Oh Lordy. Really. Richard Cohen?

This guy is, shall we say, uniquely peculiar. In fact, he may be the ex-gay ministries’ worst possible nightmare: a wackadoodle that is unafraid of going on television to show just what kind of loon he is.

Alan Medinger (now deceased): But things were desperate enough that after six or seven weeks of agonizing, on Tuesday, November 26, 1974, I went to an interdenominational meeting with Jim. He didn’t know my problem, nor did anyone there. At some point during the evening, I prayed quietly, “God, I give up. My life is a total mess. I can’t handle it any more. I don’t care what You do; you take over.” And He did.

Within a few days, I knew that some profound changes had taken place in me. First of all, I fell head over heals in love with Willa and I desired her physically. My homosexual fantasies that had almost never left me were gone. And most important of all, I knew that Jesus was real, that He loved me, and I was starting to love Him.

I’ll not speak ill of Medinger; he’s passed on and is unable to defend himself. However, I will note that he was not above quoting and relying on such unscrupulous characters as Paul Cameron and Scott Lively.

Now on to two women about whom I know very little:

Kristin (Johnson) Tremba: God taught me that sexual sin was my attempt to meet legitimate emotional needs in sexually illegitimate ways. He showed me that there were some emotional needs that had not been met in my family relationships growing up, there were some wounds, and so I was attempting to meet these needs and cover these wounds in sexual relationships as an adult. He taught me that there were also things I was born with: a sin nature, a particular temperament, various weaknesses, and a negative body image and negative view of my femininity. He taught me that even though I did not choose all my circumstances and struggles, I could choose to overcome them. I could choose to let God change my life…

Brenna Kate Simonds: My journey to recovery has been long and arduous, but more than worth it. God has helped me in many ways along the path to recovery. Therapy played a key role in expediting my experience of God’s healing in my life. My own therapy taught me how to help others experience their own journey of healing and restoration.

Well there ya have it. That prove that “same-sex attraction is not an immutable characteristic.” Nope, not at all.

All you need is Jesus. He’s a miracle worker.

Scott P.

September 23rd, 2010

I’m curious, what does the phrase “whole-enough” mean? Is it a suggestion that if a gay man can shut his eyes and think hard enough about some stud he saw that he can fumble around with a woman that’s “enough”? Or perhaps it means celibacy?


September 23rd, 2010

There is no race gene, there are genetically passed physical characteristics that comprise what we understand as “race.” Sexual orientation is genetically influenced and a very distinctive trait.


September 23rd, 2010

I, too, was wondering what a “whole-enough heterosexual” was, and who on earth makes that judgement?


September 23rd, 2010

Two problems with this brief:

“Evidence embodied in this brief” that is presented for the first time cannot be considered by the appellate court. So any and all of those points are out the window.

As far as I know, every example of a complete gay-to-straight convert that they offer (none of whom testified at trial) involves a religious conversion or is otherwise directly linked to the putative heterosexual’s religious beliefs. If a religious belief is a required element of “change”, then the condition must be deemed immutable for legal purposes and, on an independent basis, strict scrutiny would have to be applied. Assuming that these folks can truly change once they accept God, the state would be prohibited from premising classifications or the scrutiny afforded to such classifications based on an expectation of citizens’ conversion to a particular religion or based on the state’s acceptance of a particular religious experience as genuine.


September 23rd, 2010

Does Cohen mention how many times he “fell off the wagon” after getting married?


September 23rd, 2010

Jesus can heal the disabled, so let’s ban handicapped parking spaces and ramps!

Regan DuCasse

September 23rd, 2010

To your point Theo, you’re right.
This change of orientation is mostly religious conversion.

A celibate person can have no demonstrable change in orientation, just change in sexual activity.
I find it truly weird how many straight people in the public daylight express revulsion at the most casual of affection between ss couples, but one of their paths to conversion is the belief that a roll with a straight person is curative too.

There are no organic applications, no other form of intervention for homosexuality that’s worked or been proven to in the long and short term.

And religious belief itself is mutable, fluid and not enforced in this country.
So their whole idea is patently stupid isn’t it?


September 23rd, 2010

Those statements from the miraculously “cured” were not taken under oath and are inadmissable as evidence. Of course no evidence outside the trial transcript and exhibits entered into evidence during the trial are admissable in any case.


September 24th, 2010

Thanks Theo!

Also, it was my understanding that Judge Walker’s Findings of Fact were firm determinations, and could not be challenged in higher court, no? (Read this somewhere along the way)



September 24th, 2010

Also, THANKS! to CNN.

For anyone who saw this, nobody could give credibility to this procedure.

DC Hart

September 24th, 2010

Selective observation is what passes for erudition these days. There are a few things that PFOX doesn’t like to talk about.

There are exponentially more ex-ex-gays than ex-gay and one must contend with evangelical mathematics; A celibate is considered a “reparative” success. Then, of course, there is the obvious self-delusion of people so beaten down by guilt and peer pressure that they will say just about anything to make the opprobrium stop.

Most disturbing, however, is the fact that these miscreants have blood on their hands. Our teens commit suicide at an alarming rate. How many of these deaths were preventable if parents accepted the scientific fact that sexual orientation is neither a choice nor a lifestyle? These idiots are still burning witches.


September 24th, 2010

You know, there was this amazing guy once who managed to change the color of his skin through great personal effort and a lot of expense . His name was Michael Jackson.

Does that make race a mutable characteristic? Of course not.

Just because someone claims to be an exception doesn’t mean the rule has changed. Sexual orientation is not a mutable characteristic any more than tanning would make me Latino.


September 24th, 2010

I do not know about the two women listed here, but I think Cohen’s problems are fairly obvious (so, are we saying every gay person was abused), and as far as Medinger, after reading some of his story, he at best was painfully misguided. He was actually married with children and left his wife to have sex with random guys. I know this issue is touchy in the gay community, but I think clearly that he hurt his wife and kids in his move, and he wanted to be restored.

But, that of course does not excuse his attempts to make everyone heterosexual. Nor does it exclude him from using Lively and Cameron, if he did so.


September 24th, 2010

@Customartist: The trial judge in this case acted as a finder of fact, and his factual determinations are given a great deal of – but not total – deference by the appellate court. An appellate court won’t and can’t properly reject the trial court’s factual finding unless such finding is clearly in error. Of course, the way an appellate court would determine if the trial judge was clearly in error would be to look at the evidence submitted at trial. It wouldn’t look to evidence contained in an appellate brief by a non-party.

It is worth noting that Walker’s legal conclusions and his analysis of the applicable constitutional law will not given deference and the appellate court could much more easily reverse those conclusions.


You make an excellent point and it is one that I have long hoped would be put to use in some gay rights case. If you think about it, all of the established immutable characteristics (race, color, sex) have mutable behavioral components, but that doesn’t render them unworthy of heightened judicial scrutiny. You could never argue with a straight face that African Americans should get less protection because they choose not to bleach their skin. You couldn’t argue that women deserve less protection because, while they cannot change their DNA, they flagrantly choose to dress and talk like women and refuse to undergo surgery to remove their breasts or to wear a burka. It seems to me that those are the parallels to the “they can choose to change” argument put forth in the PFOX brief.

Christopher Eberz

September 24th, 2010

“…enables them to identify and live as whole-enough heterosexuals.”

I seriously love that. Love. That.

I know most people strive for completely healthy sense of self and sexual identity in life, but the gays? Pfft! We should be satisfied being *mostly* happy human beings.

I also get this image of people exiting ex-gay therapy/ministry held together by mental tape and chewing gum as brand new heterosexuals, with the counselors looking on, clasping their hands together:

“Yup, that oughtta hold’er. Straight enough!”

B John

September 24th, 2010

I realize these briefs really won’t have any impact on the court, and the people filing them know that as well. It’s political theater, and it’ll play well to their most extreme and ardent supporters.

I for one, though, welcome them. Any layperson not pre-disposed to hating gay people will see the absolute silliness in them. They will find the mind-bending contortions these groups go through trying to write a logical, factual legal brief to support hate. In every case they just fail, and to any fair-minded person, they look silly.

I think it can only help the cause of equality. Sure, this is raw meat to the truly homophobic, but we’ll never change their minds anyway, but the folks who mostly don’t care because it doesn’t affect them begin to see the silliness of it all, and realize it is based on hate, and maybe some of those folks will actually get on our side and say, “enough.”

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