NARTH, Liberty Counsel to Challenge California’s Ex-Gay Ban for Minors in Court

Jim Burroway

October 1st, 2012

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has just sent an email blast by president Christopher Rosik, announcing that they fight California’s new ban on licensed therapists providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors:

NARTH is saddened but not surprised by this unprecedented legislative intrusion and will lend its full support to the legal efforts to overturn it. California citizens and especially parents should know the indifference that supporters of this bill have toward their freedom of choice, as reflected in Senator Lieu’s recent acknowledgement that, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill…” The Senator went on to equate the harms to minors of smoking and alcohol abuse, which have been documented over decades of research, with the reported harms of sexual orientation change efforts, the prevalence of which the American Psychological Association admits we have no way of knowing.
 
Anecdotal stories of harm are no basis from which to ban an entire form of psychological care. If they were, the psychological professions would be completely out of business. We fully anticipate that activist groups like Equality California will be back next year to see what further erosions of parental rights and professional judgment politicians and mental health associations will authorize in California and other states. Counselors adhering to traditional values cannot be blamed for wondering what other practices disliked by these activists are going to be targeted as “unprofessional conduct” in the future, particularly in states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

The non-sequiter about same-sex marriage is puzzling. California currently prohibits same-sex marraige. NARTH will join forces with Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel in challenging the California law in court.

“We are filing on behalf of mental health professionals who find themselves in a catch-22,” Staver said.  Therapists have an ethical obligation to help clients deal with conflict. If a client is experiencing conflict between religious beliefs and same-sex attractions and wants to prioritize those beliefs over such attractions, the counselor is ethically obligated to directly help or refer for help. Under this law, the counselor will be forced to disregard the client’s religious beliefs or change them. “This bill and the ethical codes of all of the licensing boards in California are on an inevitable collision course,” Staver said. “The licenses of countless mental health professionals hang in the balance.”

Therapists also have an ethical obligation to provide effective treatment. There is, to date, no evidence (PDF: 816KB/138 pages) that SOCE is or has been effective in changing sexual orientation, making it, essentially, the Laetrile of the social sciences.

Lord_Byron

October 1st, 2012

” California citizens and especially parents should know the indifference that supporters of this bill have toward their freedom of choice”

Parents do not have the right to try and forcefully change their child’s sexual orientation.

“We are filing on behalf of mental health professionals who find themselves in a catch-22,” Staver said. Therapists have an ethical obligation to help clients deal with conflict. If a client is experiencing conflict between religious beliefs and same-sex attractions and wants to prioritize those beliefs over such attractions, the counselor is ethically obligated to directly help or refer for help.”

The average person under the age of 18 is not going to a mental health profession to try and change their orientation. It is the parents making a decision for the child that will most likely harm the child in the end. They are trying to make it seem like their is a waiting list of people under 18 wanting help to change who they are attracted to.

Gene in L.A.

October 1st, 2012

The good thing about this law is that it will protect young people from the religious or anti-science beliefs of their parents. Folks, you don’t own your children. They’re not property that you can mold as you see fit. They’re people, with personalities of their own, and as such should be saved from those who would try to sculpt them into small versions of themselves.

Priya Lynn

October 1st, 2012

Staver said “If a client is experiencing conflict between religious beliefs and same-sex attractions and wants to prioritize those beliefs over such attractions, the counselor is ethically obligated to directly help or refer for help.”.

False. Just as a counselor is not ethically obliged to help a client who desires to harm or kill himself a counsellor is not ethically obliged to help a client who wants to put religious beliefs ahead of their mental health. In fact its quite the opposite, the counsellor is ethically obliged to help the client positively accept who they are.

Aaron

October 1st, 2012

I do hope they try to challenge the law in the courts. I support any move by those groups that is doomed to fail and will cost them loads of money.

Sammy

October 2nd, 2012

Can’t wait to see the cross examination of witnesses. Maybe the defense will call George Rekers! That would be a hoot!

Regan DuCasse

October 2nd, 2012

In no way, can religious belief be prioritized in the matter of children, or perhaps those who aren’t 21 yet.
Religious belief already has a great deal of influence from a child’s earliest formative years.
So there is priority there already, without interference for nearly two decades.
If a young person is in a life threatening situation, religious belief that would otherwise deny them help to relieve suffering or end their life, isn’t allowed to be a priority.
That same religious belief that allows MISDIAGNOSIS, should have even LESS accommodation when that misdiagnosis is what threatens the well being of that same child!

I mean really…what kind of parent prefers DOGMA over their flesh and blood anyway?
What kind of parent will take the word of someone inexpert, even in the will of God (we’re ALL mere mortals here after all folks), instead of doing some more expansive research of their own and optimizing that child’s well being?

When it’s all said and done, this is about the parent’s, the bigot’s and bogus researcher and counselor’s well being, NOT that of the gay person.

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2012

The perception that those under the age of 18 (or 21) have no independent spiritual beliefs is baffling.

I’m certain that those who hold these beliefs would agree that children who refuse to go to church with their parents are thinking for themselves. I wonder why they think that those who choose to hold to religious beliefs are somehow incapable of thought or are the pawns of oppressive and bigoted parents? Cannot we conceptualize the notion that people can disagree with us and that not be an indication of their inferiority or their need of “protection” to save them from their own beliefs?

Priya Lynn

October 2nd, 2012

There’s no such thing as independent religious beliefs. Almost without exception people adopt the predominent religious beliefs of the geography around them and are indoctrinated by their parents when they are too young to think rationally about what is true, likely, and supported by evidence. No one arrives at the idea that gayness is a wrondoing deserving of eternal punishment on their own.

Just as people under the age of 21 are not allowed to drink because they haven’t enough life experience and maturity to judge effectively how to handle potentially harmful things they should not be allowed to jump into something that is somewhat harmful at best, very harmful at worst and completely ineffective. If a person wants to shoot herself in the foot when she turns 18, that’s her right, but until then she deserves protection from harmful things her parents may have tricked her into believing are desirable.

Nathaniel

October 2nd, 2012

Rosik quotes Lieu as saying something pretty harsh. I don’t doubt that this quote is taken out of context to make it sound worse than it actually is, but I have a hard time imagining a truly good meaning behind the quoted phrase. Does anyone know the original source of that quote? I would like to read the whole thing in context.

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2012

Priya Lynn,

I know we have a confrontational past. And I’m not saying this to spark a word war. But you are mistaken about your assumptions.

It is true that most Americans will adopt some version of Christianity when they seek religion. That is, as you said, the predominant religious belief of their geography.

However, you are wrong about your presumptions about parental indoctrination. It is not a rarity for people raised without religious influence to seek it out at some point in their lives. It’s actually a fairly common occurrence.

I very much doubt that you’ll take my word for it and I’m not going to hunt up statistics on the matter. So this may just be two contrary stated positions.

And I know it may – from your vantage point – seem inconceivable that people without religious upbringing would choose to incorporate religious belief into their lives. That may, I suppose, seem contrary to everything that you hold dear or even seem absurdly illogical.

It is, however, true.

Priya Lynn

October 2nd, 2012

Oh, I know sometimes people who haven’t been religiously indoctrinated seek out religion, but that is indeed very rare – it just about never happens. I personally don’t know of any religious people who weren’t indoctrinated in it from the time they were old enough to speak and I’m certain you know of very few such people, if any, as well. People with some regularity go from religious to atheist/agnostic but the other way around is much, much rarer.

I encourage you to hunt up some statistics on it for your own edification, I guarantee you the vast majority of religious people have adopted the religion of their parents.

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2012

No, Priya Lynn, it isn’t as rare as you think.

I’m not surprised that you don’t know any such people. I very much doubt that your social circles are largely religious. And I seem to recall that your religious family and contacts were mostly Catholic (forgive me if I got that wrong) and it is my impression that such converts gravitate towards more evangelical or charismatic faith systems.

But, yes, when I was growing up in church I knew several. My sister-in-law is an example. If I recall correctly, she began attending church in her late teens, and some time later her mother joined her (her father never did).

You are probably right that most religious people share the faith of their parents. And I think that you are likely correct that more go from religion to non-practicing and/or atheist/agnostic.

But that does not make those who go from non-religious to religious non-existent. Nor is it by necessity true that those who share the faith of their parents do so absent any true belief of their own. Religious people are not brainless automatons, redneck ignorant fools, as some non-religious people seem to think.

Jim Burroway

October 2nd, 2012

Actually, you can count both of my parents who were not raised in religiously doctrinare home, but who converted to Catholicism in 1964. (Because Catholics practice infant baptism, I’m among the rare Catholics who can remember being baptized.)

I really don’t think it’s nearly as rare as you think. In fact, It seems that much of modern Evangelicalsim owes its growth to precisely that phenomenon.

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2012

PL, I don’t mean that last sentence to be accusatory, though it does sound that way. My apologies.

Priya Lynn

October 2nd, 2012

I never said those who go from religious to non-religious were non-existant, I said some do exist.

Of course a lot of this discussion depends on what you mean by non-religious. If by non-religious you mean atheist than I don’t buy that there are a lot of religious people coming from such parents If by non-religious you mean someone who doesn’t attend church, doesn’t consider religion very important but thinks likely there is a god and Jesus is real then yes I can believe many people come from that background and develop a deeper religiosity than their parents but my point is they are still adopting their parents beliefs even if they become much more intense about it than their parents.

Now if you want to say there are lots of religious people who come from atheist/agnostic parents, or that lots of people with christian parents become Islamic, or Sihk (or vice versa) I find that much harder to believe. I just don’t believe any youth who is same sex attracted ever spontaneously decides there is an angry, jealous, loving god who opposes gayness.

But let’s get back to what we can agree on, as you said “most Americans will adopt some version of Christianity when they seek religion. That is, as you said, the predominant religious belief of their geography.”.

Assuming that I accept that a minority of religious youth seek out anti-gay therapy of their own volition while a majority of youth seeking anti-gay therapy because of the religious teachins of their parents/authority figures again I have to ask myself, “Which benefits the most people and harms the fewest, the banning of this “therapy”, or the availability of it?” I think an honest thoughtful person has to answer more people benefit from the absence of this therapy than its presence. particularly given that its presence promotes and re-inforces harmful gay self-loathing and an anti-gay society.

I’m going to leave this thread now.

Timothy Kincaid

October 2nd, 2012

I find arguments based on “what best suits the majority” to be abhorrent.

Donny D.

October 4th, 2012

Nathaniel wrote,

Rosik quotes Lieu as saying something pretty harsh. I don’t doubt that this quote is taken out of context to make it sound worse than it actually is, but I have a hard time imagining a truly good meaning behind the quoted phrase. Does anyone know the original source of that quote? I would like to read the whole thing in context.

I remember the Religious Right tried to hang some anti-religious or militantly anti-anti-gay statement on Lieu. I got the impression from his replies on the subject that the quote was entirely invented by the Religious Right.

Sometimes (and more often than sometimes), they just lie.

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