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California’s Gov. Brown Signs Ex-Gay Therapy Restrictions Into Law

Jim Burroway

October 1st, 2012

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed S.B. 1172, making the Golden State the first in the nation to prohibit licensed professionals in the state from providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) for minors. Therapists who violate the ban will be subject to discipline by the professional organization responsible for their licensing. In response to objections by various mental health licensing organizations, the earlier civil penalties were removed from the bill. The bill does not prohibit therapists from providing SOCE to adults, nor does it affect unlicensed counsellors, pastors, and other ex-gay therapy providers such as religious-based ex-gay ministries.

The law takes effect on January 1. NARTH and Liberty Counsel have vowed to challenge the law in court. Legislators in New Jersey and other states are considering similar measures.

 

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Richard Rush
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

I acknowledge that one step is better than no step, however . .

The bill does not prohibit therapists from providing SOCE to adults, nor does it affect unlicensed counselors, pastors, and other ex-gay therapy providers such as religious-based ex-gay ministries.

How sick and twisted is a society that looks one way, sees a practice that produces obvious evidence of harm, then bans it, and then looks the other way, sees the same practice producing the same harm, but allows and protects it because it is conducted based on sincerely held superstitious beliefs which means that special rights and immunities kick in?

So I assume that the NARTH quacks will just tear up their licenses and continue their scam under the banner of religion.

As an aside, when I first heard that Exodus was distancing themselves from NARTH, I assumed they (Exodus) foresaw the future and was trying to assure they are fully protected under the umbrella of religion.

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Richard,

The problem (for me) is that there has not been produced evidence that SOCE causes harm in any universal sense. There are instances of harm, but there are also instances in which some have claimed beneficial results.

I’ve always thought that “harm” was the weakest of our objections. We can’t prove it – though a good many gay organizations just say so anyway (to my irritation) – yet, anyway.

Shidlo and Schroeder simply wasn’t designed to quantify the extent to which harm was present. We may suppose that it is harmful on the whole, we may even know that it has been harmful to some, but if we banned everything that has caused some people harm there would be very little we would be allowed to do.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said “but if we banned everything that has caused some people harm there would be very little we would be allowed to do.”.

If we bannned everything that has caused some harm and has never provided any benefit no one should have a problem with that. Although you’ve made anecdotal claims that some have benefited from this snake oil there is no evidence to back up your claim. Your opinion isn’t sufficient.

Michael C
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Hi Priya, Unfortunately, with something as scientifically unquantifiable as sexual orientation, anecdotal evidence is all we got. Some folk say reparative therapy has helped them. How do we counter that? Call them liars? How do we prove that they’re lying?

I am glad that the CA (and the potential NJ) bill only applies to minors. I am sure that, had the bill applied to the practice in general, a single lawsuit could have it thrown out.

Timothy, “I’ve always thought that “harm” was the weakest of our objections.”

What do you feel ARE “our” objections to reparative therapy?

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Michael, this “therapy” has been studied a great deal and all of the major mental health agencies state that it does not help and is potentially harmful. Forgive me if I take the experts’ word for it rather than yours or Timothy’s.

The major mental health associations also say those who positively accept their sexual orienation (those who are not seeking “reparitive” “therapy”)are happier and better adjusted than those who do not.

So, “anecdotal evidence” is not “all we’ve got”.

And yes, we call them liars. Large numbers of them have claimed to have changed orientation but none are willing to submit to penile plethysmograph or no lie MRI or such tests to prove their claims while those that have studied such claims have found no evidence that anyone has changed orientation.

Virtually everyone who seeks out “reparitive” “therapy” is deeply religious and seeks to repress their sexuality for that reason. Many may believe that its a sin to tell people “reparitive” “therapy” doesn’t work and that it hasn’t benefitted them because that would be encouraging people to believe they can’t come to Jesus by changing their sexual orientation. The incentive to lie only goes in one direction, there is strong incentive to lie to say it is working and one has benefited, but for the deeply religous there is no incentive to lie and say one has failed, is a sinner, should be rejected by the community, and destined for hell.

Timothy has frequently made the unsupported claim that such clients have benefitted not by attempting to change their orientation but by getting peripheral counselling for drug abuse or non-orientation related issues. Even if that were the case it would in no way justify allowing “therapy” to change orientations as such peripheral counseling is readily available apart from counselling to suppress one’s orientation. Once again, the “therapy” to suppress one’s orientation (or as Timothy will call it, “therapy to live in congruence with one’s religion”) is of no benefit, potentially harmful and like any other sort of snake oil should be banned.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

One more thing. Timothy has also claimed that such religious people unhappy with their orientation will not seek out any other type of counselling due to their religious beliefs – only a “therapy” that rejects their sexuality will be acceptable to them.

If we were to accept without evidence and despite evidence of harm that some people benefit from this “therapy” we have to ask “Which helps more people and harms them less, the availability of this “therapy” or the banning of it?” If you think about it honestly I doubt you can come to any other conclusion than that the greater number of people are benefitted by banning this “therapy”, particularly given that having this anti-gay “therapy” available promotes and re-enforces religious gay people’s feelings of self-loathing while banning it sends a message to them that such self-loathing is misguided, there is nothing wrong with being gay and one will be happier and better adjusted if one positively accepts that.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

And one more thing:

There are a variety of psychological testing procedures that can measure a person’s level of happiness, depression, and well-being, so its not true that we can’t measure and quantify claims of benefit or harm.

Its important to note that Shidlo and Schroeder found harm, but no evidence of benefit.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Correction, Shidlo and Schoeder found little evidence of benefit and a large amount of evidence of harm.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

http://www.helping-people.info/articles/straight_talk.htm

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Michael C,

I think our strongest objections are

1) it doesn’t work

2) theologically, it has real problems (though this only really matters to a smaller group)

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Timothy said, “Michael C, if you want to know my opinions, it’s probably best to ignore what anyone else says they are.”

My opinion about harm is informed in part by this statement (ironically, linked to by Priya Lynn)

Shidlo: A lot of them were very hurt by it and required therapy to come to terms with their failure, who they were and the impact of their future and self-esteem. Many said they had a hard time forming relationships and suffered a lot of sexual dysfunction…. Another group felt very suspicious of all therapists. They felt deceived and betrayed. And a third group seemed to be psychologically resilient; their view was that the therapy had been a positive thing because it had helped them come to terms with the fact that they couldn’t change, and this was who they truly were, and that it was time to stop fighting with themselves inside.

Unfortunately, at this time we simply lack the data to quantify the amounts of harm or benefit. I dislike making broad, but unsupportable, statements about harm in SOCE therapy.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

By all means do so, rational informed readers on the other hand can see the truth when I present it to them.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Oh, I see you changed your comment from ignoring me to addressing me.

People benefiting from realizing they can’t change their orientation is not an argument in favour of allowing counselling to encourage them to suppress their orientation.

Once again, we have to ask “Which helps more people and harms them less, the availability of this “therapy” or the banning of it?”. Given that there is at best some harm and at worst a great deal of harm from this “therapy” and that this “therapy” is totally unnecessary to help people realize they can’t change, if you think about it honestly I doubt you can come to any other conclusion than that the greater number of people are benefitted by banning this “therapy”, particularly given that having this anti-gay “therapy” available promotes and re-enforces religious gay people’s feelings of self-loathing and an anti-gay societal atmosphere while banning it sends a message to them and society that such self-loathing is misguided, there is nothing wrong with being gay and one will be happier and better adjusted if one positively accepts that.

Michael C
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Priya, make no mistake, I believe eliminating SOCE would be INCREDIBLY beneficial. I think countless lives could be made better and potentially saved if reparative therapy was banned entirely.

Timothy, isn’t the “It doesn’t work” argument inseparable from “It causes harm”. I cannot imagine that failing God doesn’t leave some remarkable emotional scars. I have interest in your theological argument against it.

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Michael,

No. They are two separate issues. Something can be ineffective without causing harm. Read the Shido comment I quoted above.

When passing legislation, our guesswork may be useful, but we cannot ascribe it the same stature as researched fact.

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

“Oh, I see you changed your comment from ignoring me to addressing me.”

And then back to ignoring you. It’s better that way.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2012 | LINK

Addressing something I posted is not ignoring me.

Eric in Oakland
October 2nd, 2012 | LINK

I think that an objective observer would have to at least conclude that this “therapy” has not been proven effective in most cases, correct? Regardless of whether harm has been proven, does anyone really consider it ethical to for a professional counselor to practice this quackery while misrepresenting it as legitimate science? Since the ban exempts faith based programs, I believe the issues of misrepresentation and false medical claims are central. This is not suppression of a treatment option, since it will still be readily available for those who want it (or whose family wants it). It is basically just a requirement that it not be administered under false pretenses.

Michael C
October 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Eric in Oakland, Unfortunately, earlier drafts of the CA bill included the requirement for adults entering SOCE therapy to sign a waiver that explained everything you’ve just stated. (that was an awkward sentence, sorry) That part of the bill was dropped.

Timothy Kincaid
October 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Actually, therapy is banned for those who want it and whose families want it (if they are younger than 18). They still can go to unlicensed and untrained counselors, just not to someone who is professionally accountable.

As for the waiver, that was the part of the bill that I liked (though I would prefer that the APA draft the language rather than the politicians).

I’m all for informed consent. That, sadly, is not what we ended up with.

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