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New Jersey: Maggie Gallagher Gets It Wrong

Rob Tisinai

August 21st, 2013

Maggie has finally weighed in on New Jersey’s law banning reparative therapy. She’s been holding off: “I will read the bill Chris Christie signed carefully before I issue any statement, if I do.”

Apparently Maggie didn’t read it carefully enough. She now says:

Governor Chris Christie has just put his name to a bill that uses the power of government to strip both parents and teenagers of the right to seek competent, professional help to live their life in accordance with their own values. The bill does not ban a specific kind of destructive therapy; it is a blanket ban on any licensed counseling professional helping any teenager who does not wish to act on gay (or transgender) desire. Not only efforts to change orientation but efforts to change behavior are forbidden, under penalty of law.

Governor Christie just endorsed a law that thus excludes many gay teens who wish to live in accordance with Bible-based values from the circle of care; he has outright banned chastity as a goal of counseling. [emphasis added]

Maggie’s careful reading was actually quite sloppy. I guess she’s alarmed by this part of the bill’s wording:

“sexual orientation change efforts” means the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors… [emphasis added]

If Maggie stopped reading there, then it might have sounded like a ban on chastity counseling. But if she’d kept going she’d have read section 2.b. in full:

except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include…counseling that…does not seek to change sexual orientation.

In other words, therapists are allowed to try and change patients’ behaviors (gay or straight), as long as they don’t try to change patients’ sexual orientation (gay or straight). Christie has in no way “outright banned chastity as a goal of counseling.”

I can’t say that Maggie is deliberately lying. The bill’s structure is a bit confusing. Really, though, Maggie’s paid to get these things right. But she didn’t, so get ready to hear this grievously wrong talking point again and again.

 

Comments

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Ben In Oakland
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Of course she’s deliberately lying. No one COULD ban chastity, and she’s not so stupid that she could possibly believe they could.

celticdragonchick
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Off topic, but you still may want to see this latest bad craziness from Rod Dreher over at The American Conservative…where letting intersexed kids in Germany decide who they for themselves is totally like being a Nazi. Or something.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/desire-uber-alles/

Mockery here at Little Green Footballs.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/42422_Rod_Dreher_Is_Jumping_The_Shark_Agai

Johnson
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

She will say or do anything, including Lie, to keep her massive paychecks coming in and justify her position.

Rob Tisinai
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Ben, she’s not saying they’re banning chastity, just chastity counseling.

Of course, she’s still wrong.

Sir Andrew
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

This headline is not so much a headline as it is the eventual title of her eventual biography. The most amusing part of this story is Maggie’s obvious belief that not only are her opinions important, but that the public is waiting eagerly to hear them.

Ben In Oakland
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

” he has outright banned chastity as a goal of counseling.”

Let’s just say the truth lies somewhere between the two.

SammySeattle
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

I disagree. Maggie is not paid to get things right. Maggie is paid to denigrate gay people. Maggie and her cohorts have made an industry of getting things wrong with respect to gay people. And it worked for quite a long time.

Priya Lynn
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

I agree with SammySeattle. It doesn’t matter to them if what they’re saying is true or not, all that matters is if they think it helps promote their anti-gay agenda.

Richard Rush
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Maggie insists that the government must protect the religious freedom (and duty) of parents to have their gay children abused and tortured, and the religious freedom (and duty) to discriminate against gays in general ~
in order to form a more perfect union between church and state.

bill johnson
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

The bills structure might be confusing to someone who is just casually looking at it but as you pointed out someone who is commentating on behalf of their organization on a law that is passed is supposed to be able to get this right. Indeed after I read her comments and found the text of the law it only took a few minutes for me to find the bit that proved her wrong. It’s like she is reading, feels that she has read enough to write her piece and leaves before reading the bit clarifying who the law will not affect.

But however it happened there are now enough corrections of her mistakes out there that she has no excuse for not issuing a correction of her inaccurate claims. It’s what happens after the inaccurate statement has been identified that gives the sincerity of the commentator away and the typical course of action for people on her side of the issue is to stubbornly refuse to issue a correction, let’s see if she proves me wrong.

homer
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

I guess Maggie has finally given up pretending that she is only against same sex marriage and that she actually likes gay people.

She just wants us to disappear, vanish, magically become straight. One wonders whether she is acting out because of her own feelings, or because of her older son, the one involved in musical theater.

Timothy Kincaid
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Well, it will be easy to tell. Should Maggie take note of her error and correct it, then she was simply hasty. If she refuses to correct her misstatements, then we must assume her misstatements were intentional.

Ben In Oakland
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

Oh, timothy, you are so much a nicer person than I am!

PLAINTOM
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

I am sorry Rob but I disagree with your closing paragraph. Maggie is paid to be a propagandist and she will say whatever she thinks will support her cause.

james
August 21st, 2013 | LINK

“Maggie Gallagher Gets It Wrong.”

Not exactly breaking news . . .

Hunter
August 22nd, 2013 | LINK

In line with many of the other comments, I take exception to your last paragraph. Gallagher doesn’t care whether she’s lying or not — in fact, since reality generally turns out to favor the opposition, she tends to opt for lying, or at least misrepresenting. And being a true “conservative,” she won’t take responsibility for her words — it’s someone else’s fault. Don’t expect a “correction.”

And if Gallagher didn’t understand the bill, maybe she should have consulted her organization’s legal counsel. Or maybe that’s the problem.

Nathaniel
August 22nd, 2013 | LINK

If I remember my news correctly, she had already retracted her statement once, claiming she hadn’t actually read the law and the statement had been released by her staff without her approval. This is her second statement (which I understand is not that different from the first), so I find it unlikely that she will offer any further retractions, even if it was an honest mistake.

Regan DuCasse
August 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Why is that stain still talking? She got on my last nerve LAST year!

iDavid
August 23rd, 2013 | LINK

It’s not easy getting rid of cock roaches.

Richard Rush
August 23rd, 2013 | LINK

“It’s not easy getting rid of cock roaches.” (and some other bugs)

And, getting rid of them is much more difficult when going after them on a one-by-one basis. By “them,” I’m not so much referring to individual people as I am individual beliefs/assertions.

That’s why I believe we need to “go for the jugular.” That is, go after their source of power – the power that drives them, supports them, and/or justifies them. And that source of power is religion.

Generally, I try to avoid going after spiders – because they eat the more annoying bugs. But if the problem gets too bad, then I’m forced to take measures that may destroy the spiders as well. I wish that moderate Christians were more like spiders.

Mark Barton
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

I’m gay and not supportive of sexual orientation change efforts of any type, but as to the interpretation of the law I’m afraid Maggie is right and you’re misinterpreting it.

You’re assuming that sexual orientation is being used in the sense defined for example by the APA as referring to “the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted.” ( http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/sexuality-definitions.pdf )

However that’s simply not the definition applicable in NJ law. There it’s “Male or female heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality by inclination, practice, identity or _expression_” (my emphasis). In turn, homosexuality (say) is “affectional, emotional or physical attraction or _behavior_ which is primarily directed towards persons of the same gender” (my emphasis). See http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/pdf/EED/EED_Legal_Definitions.pdf

So counseling that attempts to change the direction of sexual behavior from same- to opposite-sex is by definition seeking to change sexual orientation. What I presume they’re trying to head off is groups that want to take advantage of the exemption for counselling about “unsafe sexual practices” to suggest that gay men should start having sex with women as a safe-sex practice.

Rob Tisinai
August 27th, 2013 | LINK

That’s an interesting take, Mark, and I think it reveals a weakness in the law, but Maggie and I are not talking about attempts to change sexual behavior from same-sex to opposite sex. We’re talking about attempts to change behavior from same-sex to chastity, and as that’s not recognized as a sexual orientation in the link you provide (nor in the common usage) such counseling is not banned by the bill, and Maggie continues to be wrong.

Mark Barton
August 28th, 2013 | LINK

But now it seems to me you’re still misinterpreting technical terms, just this time with Maggie. She’s a doctrinaire Catholic, so when she says chastity, it is safe to presume that she’s not sloppily referring to celibacy (i.e., unmarried and sexually abstinent), she means approved sexual behaviour, which may include celibacy but also very much includes and emphasizes sex within an opposite-sex marriage. Also, RC teaching around chastity includes the proposition that it is ‘important that we avoid labeling ourselves as “gay,” “lesbian,” or “bisexual.” ‘ ( http://couragerc.net/Download_Brochures/YA_CourageBrochure.pdf ) They can’t preach that without it being an attempt to change sexual orientation in the legal sense via the “identity” aspect.

In any case, the sort of things that Maggie is annoyed at not being able to preach are precisely what the law is trying to ban, and a jolly good thing too.

Priya Lynn
August 28th, 2013 | LINK

I’ve never heard being sexually active within marriage as being chaste. I’m not buying it Mark.

Rob Tisinai
August 28th, 2013 | LINK

And Mark, the law and Maggie and I are all talking about minors, not adults in opposite-sex marriages.

The contortions one would have to go through to make Maggie’s statement even remotely true aren’t even hinted at in her article. If she hasn’t gotten it wrong, then she’s written something so misleading as to be utterly incompetent.

Timothy Kincaid
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Chastity does include being sexually active within marriage.

Marcus
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks, Timothy.

I get sick of the “argument” that goes “I’ve never heard of it, so it must not be true.” (Fifty years ago, and in certain places today, it would have been applied to the existence of LGBT people…) Ignorance is an excuse, not a real argument.

Rob
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

I find it odd when anyone uses the churches definition of a word, rather than the actual definition of the word via a real dictionary. There would be many words defined differently via religous organizations to mean things they don’t actually mean. Taking one churches definition of the word is an odd thing to me. Two of the three definitions of chastity mean not having sexual relations, the second of the three is virtuous, which could possibly mean sexuality within a marriage, but ONLY within a marriage if one thinks to interpret it that way. But as a rule, I wouldn’t normally look to the Catholic Church to give me a definition of anything. It is the religous doctrine of The Church, not a generally accepted meaning of a common word. The common usage today means abstaining from sexual relations. In the past it meant morally pure, and within marriage, sex with the spouse would be considered morally pure, but it is hardly the commonly accepted definition of the times.

Richard Rush
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Rob said, “There would be many words defined differently via religous organizations to mean things they don’t actually mean.”

So true! Just look at some common everyday words such as love, freedom, liberty, [scientific] theory, fact, pro and/or anti [family], and truth. But then, ironically, the same people fanatically insist that “marriage” dare not be “redefined,” even though, in actuality, it has been redefined and evolving continuously throughout human history.

Priya Lynn
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy said “Priya Lynn,

Chastity does include being sexually active within marriage.”.

Oh, please – a catholic definition?!

These are the same people that have bastardized the meaning of love into meaning to control another person so they live according to your own desires.

Don’t give me stinking church defintions of words, the vast majority of people have never heard of those meanings and would never agree with them. Just because a minute handful of people obsessed with religion and designated religious authorities say a word has a certain meaning doesn’t mean it does.

Mark Barton
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Rob: I don’t care how odd you find it, Maggie is a doctrinaire Catholic sponsored primarily by rich doctrinaire Catholics presenting a pseudo-secular case for doctrinaire Catholic teachings, and “chaste” is a term of art in Catholicism which figures frequently in their writings about homosexuality and is _invariably_ used with the meaning I pointed out. Catholics _don’t_ particularly want gay people to be celibate, they want them to be chaste. That’s the word they consistently use and they use it for a reason. While chastity includes celibacy, and permanent celibacy will do, they have their fingers crossed for chaste sex within opposite-sex marriage. If you think she would be well-advised to dumb it down and make accommodations to what she would regard as the ignorant misusage of chastity to mean celibacy then I wouldn’t disagree, but there’s not the slightest doubt about what she meant.

And in turn, that just ups the stakes in the original discussion. Even if Catholics were merely recommending permanent celibacy, then whether you think “none” should count as a sexual orientation in its own right, a change from homosexual to “none” by behaviour could still reasonably be considered a change of orientation (cf., whether “bald” is a bona fide hair colour, going from blonde to bald is certainly a change of hair colour). That’s certainly the interpretation I’d be recommending to the judge.

And given that what Catholics are actually recommending is temporary celibacy with a strong nudge-nudge-wink-wink in the direction of proceeding to chaste sex within opposite-sex marriage, that goes double.

The upshot is I continue to think that you are sloppily misreading technical terms in both the law and Maggie’s statement, and that Maggie is, from her point of view, right to be worried. (By contrast, I think what she’s worried about isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.)

Marcus
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Nobody’s advocating for the Catholic Church’s definition. They’re pointing out that a Catholic writer may be using the Catholic Church’s vocabulary. Would it help to pretend that linguistic differences don’t exist?

Priya Lynn
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

The only people using the catholic churches definition are ivory towered virgins who make their living by promoting tortured logic to justify obscure minutia.

The vast majority of catholics don’t give a damn about that sort of thing.

Rob Tisinai
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Mark, I’d love to be there when you tell the judge that a person a celibate person cannot be called homosexual or heterosexual regardless of their thoughts or statements (a lot of straight virgins would loudly disagree, as would a lot of gays!).

In any case, a judge who took that statement seriously enough to reply at all would end up pointing to the source you yourself provided (http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/pdf/EED/EED_Legal_Definitions.pdf) to explain why “celibate” and “chaste” or not recognized by state law as sexual orientations.

Rob Tisinai
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Actually, we don’t have to refer to dictionary definitions of chastity: Maggie Gallagher makes it clear what she’s talking about in this short article:

“it is a blanket ban on any licensed counseling professional helping any teenager who does not wish to act on gay (or transgender) desire.”

That statement is simply false. Certain types of “help” are certainly banned, but a “blanket ban”? Not even close. A therapist who encourages a minor to freely and openly examine their desires while helping them remain celibate is in no way in violation of the law.

Maggie got it wrong.

Mark Barton
August 29th, 2013 | LINK

Rob: “Mark, I’d love to be there when you tell the judge that a person a celibate person cannot be called homosexual or heterosexual regardless of their thoughts or statements (a lot of straight virgins would loudly disagree, as would a lot of gays!).”

I don’t see how I would have to make an argument of that precise form to convict Maggie. The legal definition is terms of desire, identity, practice and expression jointly, despite the fact that these things correlate very imperfectly. Someone has to make sense of that. I don’t think I’d have any problem at all selling the idea that an attempt to effect a change in any one of those, either to a neutral setting or to the opposite, constitutes an attempt to change sexual orientation for the purposes. I’d happily go to bat for such an interpretation because I think its right on the intent – the clause explicitly emphasizing behaviours on behaviours suggests that that’s how the law was probably meant – and right on the substance – I don’t think therapists should be allowed to be counsel indefinite term celibacy either.

Of course, I get it that you prefer a definition in which same-sex attraction trumps all the other considerations, and you’re used to making speeches to people who take that definition for granted. I prefer that definition too, because it focusses on what’s central to gay people’s experience. But legally that’s not the definition, and behaviour and identity carry just as much weight. Or between the two of them, twice as much.

Rob Tisinai
August 30th, 2013 | LINK

Mark, according to the documents you’ve provided, New Jersey state law defines sexual orientation on the basis of:

affectional, emotional or physical attraction or behavior

I emphasized the “or” because it indicate that you do not require both attraction and behavior to establish orientation; either is sufficient on its own.

Now, according to that same document, NJ recognizes three orientations: homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality. That’s all. The law does not have different classifications for a person who is same-sex attracted and acts on it and a person who is same-sex attracted but has no sex at all. Both people meet the legal criteria for homosexuality. So when a same-sex attracted person adopts chastity while retaining the attraction, that person’s sexual orientation has not changed. Not in the eyes of New Jersey state law, anyway.

Mark Barton
September 15th, 2013 | LINK

Depending on the purpose one _could_ reasonably read it to say that either attraction or behaviour could be dispositive by itself, but I don’t see see that one _has_ to. And when the purpose is trying to make sense of a later law that specifically singles out “efforts to change behaviors” as the sort of thing that “seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation” is meant to include, I don’t see it at all.

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