Posts Tagged As: California

California’s Ex-Gay Therapy Restrictions Go To Gov. Brown

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2012

As expected, the California Senate quickly approved the stripped down version of the proposed restrictions on ex-gay therapy for minors by licensed therapists that passed the House on Monday. The bill is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown has not indicated whether he will sign the bill or not.

The bill, known as S.B 1172, prohibits California’s licensed professionals from offering Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors under the age of eighteen. Unlike earlier versions of the bill, the state of California will not enforce the ban. That task will fall to the professional organization responsible for licensing the mental health professional. And also unlike earlier versions of the bill, no penalties or sanctions are specified; they are left up to the licensing organization to determine. Unlicensed organizations and individuals — religious-based ex-gay ministries, pastors, unlicensed counselors and life coaches, etc. — are not subject to the ban on providing SOCE for minors.

California Passes Ex-Gay Therapy Restrictions

Jim Burroway

August 28th, 2012

The California Assembly today, in a 51-21 vote, approved a significantly scaled-back measure to ban licensed therapists in the state of California from providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors under the age of eighteen. The bill must now go back to the Senate to be reconciled with a much broader version of the bill which passed that chamber last May. The scope of the bill was significantly reduced in order to win the approval of several state mental health professional organizations.

When the bill was first introduced into the Senate, there were additional provisions which would have required that adults undergoing SOCE to sign a state-mandated informed consent form, and it would have left therapists open to fines of $$5,000 or “actual damages, or statutory damages” if the client later determined that he or she had been harmed by the therapy or if the therapist had contravened California’s restrictions on SOCE. Due to objections form several mental health organizations, the state-mandated informed consent form was dropped, and the fines were eliminated in favor of a new clause which subjects the licensed therapist “to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.” The bill affects licensed therapists only. It does not affect religious-based ex-gay ministries or unlicensed pastors, counselors or self-described “life coaches.”

Due to the opposition to the original bill by mental health professional organizations, it is expected that the House version of the bill will go back to the Senate for approval rather than having a compromise bill being worked out between the two chambers. After Senate approval, it will then go on to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature. He has not yet indicated his position on the bill.

NARTH and Liberty Counsel Pledge To Fight California Ex-Gay Therapy Ban In Court

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2012

With the California Assembly poised to consider S.B. 1172, which would bar licensed therapists in California from offering therapies identified as Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors, the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and Liberty Counsel pledged in an email blast to NARTH supporters to seek to have the law blocked in court if it becomes law:

NARTH to officially work with Liberty Council to pursue an injunction and all other necessary court action against SB 1172
While we are doing everything possible to defeat SB 1172 in the California Assembly NARTH is also working with Liberty Council to stop this destructive legislation if it is passed and signed into law by the Governor. As we have said from the beginning, NARTH will continue to oppose these efforts to limit client rights by taking whatever action is legally open to us as an organization. 

The proposed legislation has been scaled back since it was first introduced in the Senate in April. The provisions requiring that adult clients seeking SOCE sign a mandated informed consent statement has been dropped, along with provisions allowing SOCE clients to sue their therapists if they feel they were harmed by such therapies. The Senate approved S.B. 1172 on a 23-13 vote in May. Because the proposed law would only apply to licensed therapists, religious ex-gay ministries are exempt. In  a statement on SOCE issued in June, Exodus International declined to oppose the bill.

California Senate Passes Ex-Gay Therapy Bill

Jim Burroway

May 30th, 2012

The California state Senate today passed SB 1172, a bill which will prohibit licensed professionals from providing sexual orientation change therapy for patients under the age of eighteen. The bill would also mandates an informed consent statement to be signed by adults seeking ex-gay therapy. Because the bill applies only to licensed therapists, religious ex-gay ministries and programs are not affected by the legislation.

The bill passed in a 23-13 vote, and is now on its way to the House.

There Were No Bachelorette Parties at The Abbey in WeHo Last Night

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2012

The Elizabeth Taylor shrine at The Abbey in West Hollywood

Two thoughts: 1) I couldn’t be happier, and 2) what on earth took them so long? This is from their press release:

Every Friday and Saturday night, we’re flooded with requests from straight girls in penis hats who want to ogle our go-gos, dance with the gays and celebrate their pending nuptials. They are completely unaware that the people around them are legally prohibited from getting married,” said David Cooley, Founder of The Abbey.  “Over the past 22 years, The Abbey has been a place that accepts everyone, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and everything in between. We love our straight girlfriends and they are welcome here, just not for bachelorette parties.”

It has long been a policy at The Abbey to deny admission to groups in costume, including Bachelorette regalia. Bachelorette parties had previously been allowed inside if they removed their costumes. The Abbey’s ‘bachelorette ban’ comes on the heels of a ban on gay marriage in North Carolina and a number of other states across the South.   The Abbey encourages other gay-owned and operated establishments to institute their own bans as a sign of solidarity until marriage is legal everywhere for everyone.

To be honest, I’m surprised that The Abbey is just now getting around to this. I was in Washington, D.C. in 2008 for a conference, and decided to take in an evening at Town, a large two-story dance club. This was the year that marriage bans were on the ballot in California, Florida, and my home state of Arizona, and more than a year before marriage equality arrived in D.C. On the lower level of the club was one of the most impressive drag shows I’ve ever scene, polluted, I might say, by a obnoxious bachelorette party flaunting their privilege. They were partying in a gay club while the rest of us had to stand there and be reminded that even in our own spaces we were second class citizens. I found it unspeakably rude. I’m glad to see these bans in place, but more importantly I will be thrilled to see them thrown out when we can all celebrate marriages equally.

It’s Still 1967 at Biola University

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2012

I think the opening paragraph in this report says it all:

Officials at a private Christian university in Southern California held a “family discussion” on Friday after revelations of a community of homosexual students rocked the 100-year-old campus. [Emphasis added]

I had to check the dateline to make sure it was 2012. Biola University is an evangelical campus of 6,000-plus students south of Los Angeles, and they are shocked — actually, “rocked” — to find that a few of them are gay. A group of Biola University students made themselves known a few weeks ago by creating a web site, asking “to be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola’s diversity.” That web site drew a lengthy response (PDF: 172KB/4 pages), reminding everyone that “all members of the University community are expected to following the teachings of scripture” before reiterating Biola’s position regarding “any act of sexual intimacy between two persons of the same sex, as illegitimate moral options for the confessing Christian.”

MSNBC has followed up on the group which “has shaken this 104-year-old Christian college”:

Chris Grace, vice president for student development at Biola, said the school would like to engage in conversation with the underground group but has been stymied by the members’ anonymity. “We really are at a disadvantage here because we don’t know who these people are,” Grace said, adding that the university would “love and welcome a conversation with them and that’s what we are hoping for.”

But members of BQU, who would only comment for this story anonymously, fear that by “coming out” they would be punished and possibly expelled. They said they consider themselves Christians “first and foremost” and love Biola, and are not looking to create “a war” on campus, but they are looking to have an open discussion about what it means to be Christian and gay.

Eventually, Members of the group would like to “come out” and be open about their sexuality. “It’s important to our integrity to not have parts of us be hidden even among the Christian community,” a member said.

In 1967, Time reported on what was believed to be the first gay students group in the nation forming on the campus of Columbia University. Like these Biola University students, they too feared identifying themselves. Biola University is only 26 miles from West Hollywood, but 45 years away from the first stirrings of dignity on its own campus. That’s a lot of catching up to do.

Welcome back proposal

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2012

A few days ago Pendleton Air Force Marine Base in San Diego was the site of another first (LGBT Weekly):

Finally, luggage in tow, Guerrero emerged with a smile on his face. Upon seeing Huston, Guerrero dropped his bags; aimed a kiss toward Huston’s lips; and opened his arms to his boyfriends waiting embrace. The time and distance of 10 months’ separation evaporated in a public show of affection that less than a year ago would have been cause for court martial. After a few minutes of emotional holding and kissing, Huston went anxiously down on one knee; looked up at Guerrero, who was dressed from head to toe in military fatigues; and produced an engagement ring and the time-honored phrase, “Will you marry me?”

Huston’s mild tremble, a result of hours and days of anticipation about this day, was quickly quieted by the one word every hopeful fiancé wants to hear: “Yes.”

Meanwhile, across the pond, the Brits are debating whether to adopt Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to replace civil unions with full legal equality for same-sex couples. This ad is one piece in the campaign. (tissue warning)

Why I oppose the ‘Don’t Say Ex-Gay’ bill

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

April 26th, 2012

As has been discussed on other threads, the California State Legislature is proposing a bill that will prohibit licensed mental health professionals from offering therapy to minors with the goal of diminishing same-sex attraction or encouraging opposite-sex attraction. Many in our community, including other Box Turtle Bulletin authors, see this as at least a partially positive action. I see it a horrific.

There are many reasons, some philosophical – some pragmatic, why I oppose this bill. Here are a few:

It isn’t needed

No mental health organization has called for this action. But that is not because of ignorance about the issue or a lack of willingness to address it.

In August 2009 the American Psychological Association Task Force Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Response to Sexual Orientation issued it’s report. The conclusion was

The American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates. Even though the research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, regardless of sexual orientation identity, the task force concluded that the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation. Thus, the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome.

However, the findings seem to stop short of banning change therapy. And this is an important distinction.

The Task Force also found

The conflict between psychology and traditional faiths may have its roots in different philosophical viewpoints. Some religions give priority to telic congruence (i.e., living consistently within one’s valuative goals) (W. Hathaway, personal communication, June 30, 2008; cf. Richards & Bergin, 2005). Some authors propose that for adherents of these religions, religious perspectives and values should be integrated into the goals of psychotherapy (Richards & Bergin, 2005; Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006). Affirmative and multicultural models of LGB psychology give priority to organismic congruence (i.e., living with a sense of wholeness in one’s experiential self (W. Hathaway, personal communication, June 30, 2008; cf. Gonsiorek, 2004; Malyon, 1982). This perspective gives priority to the unfolding of developmental processes, including self-awareness and personal identity.

This difference in worldviews can impact psychotherapy. For instance, individuals who have strong religious beliefs can experience tensions and conflicts between their ideal self and beliefs and their sexual and affectional needs and desires (Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; D. F. Morrow, 2003). The different worldviews would approach psychotherapy for these individuals from dissimilar perspectives: The telic strategy would prioritize values (Rosik, 2003; Yarhouse & Burkett, 2002), whereas the organismic approach would give priority to the development of self-awareness and identity (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Gonsiorek, 2004; Haldeman, 2004). It is important to note that the organismic worldview can be congruent with and respectful of religion (Beckstead & Israel, 2007; Glassgold, 2008; Gonsiorek, 2004; Haldeman, 2004; Mark, 2008), and the telic worldview can be aware of sexual stigma and respectful of sexual orientation (Throckmorton & Yarhouse, 2006; Tan, 2008; Yarhouse, 2008). Understanding this philosophical difference may improve the dialogue between these two perspectives represented in the literature, as it refocuses the debate not on one group’s perceived rejection of homosexuals or the other group’s perceived minimization of religious viewpoints but on philosophical differences that extend beyond this particular subject matter. However, some of the differences between these philosophical assumptions may be difficult to bridge.

In a nutshell, that says that different people with different worldviews benefit from different types of therapy. Not exactly a shocking revelation.

The APA is taking a measured and cautious approach designed to address the needs of patients. They are looking to efficacy, but not only to results. They are also considering the side effects – positive and negative – of such therapy. And they are seeking ways to improve communication between differing people so as to maximize mental health consequences.

Which, of course, is of no concern to the California State Legislature. Their agenda is political, not therapeutic.

This removes all therapy for some individuals

Our community tends to focus on the potential harm of change therapy. And there is potential harm. But we are reluctant to admit that some people benefit from this therapy.

No, they don’t change their orientation. But we have heard many people share with us that through their therapy with a change therapist they were able to deal with other issues: finding their own worth, identifying their values, determining what matters, and overcoming messages of condemnation and rejection.

Change therapy has much to be criticized about. But change therapists do attempt to dispel some of the erroneous messages that their patients have heard, including “God hates you” and “you are an abomination” and “you choose to be this way”.

Some may argue that the bad outweighs the good. And in some instances that may be true. But the truth that many forget is that this is the only option for some gay Christian youth. They are not going to have access to an affirmative counselor. They are not going to want access to an affirmative counselor.

And any suggestion on our part that they seek an affirmative therapist is flippant, at best.

This is an extension of a micromanagement ‘government knows best’ approach

Were this coming from a psychiatrist turned state senator, I might see it as a matter of advancing and protecting the interests of the profession. But Senator Ted Lieu is not known for his desire to administer solutions to problems. Rather, it might be best to describe Senator Lieu as a man who is quite convinced that he knows what is best for you and is more than ready to force you to do it. He shares more than a little instinct with Dr. James Dobson – just from the opposite side.

Lieu lists his 2011 Legislative Accomplishments. They consist of a bill to establish committees to decide what job Californians should have, a bill “requiring all pets to be microchipped with the owner’s contact information”, a bill “prohibiting children under the age of 18 from using ultra violet tanning beds”, a bill designed to require out of state employers whose work force is predominantly out of state to provide domestic partner benefits to any employee within the state, a bill which eliminates the right of employers to collect costs or expenses resulting from an illegal strike, a bill which sought to “impose time and place restriction for funeral protests”, and a bill which “prohibits the practice of selling puppies and kittens in parking lots and sidewalks”.

Whether one thinks that these are all good things or all bad things, it’s pretty clear that Lieu has a consistent approach to individual rights: restrict them.

The motivations behind it are less than honorable

In the State of California, there are no more bills that can be passed to put gay people on an equal standing. They have passed them all. The only remaining hurdle is marriage and that is out of the hands of the legislature.

But certain elected officials, and certain gay advocacy groups desperately need for there to be conflict. They regularly send “call your assemblyman, send us money” emails so as to make sure that some unnecessary bill isn’t Defeated by the Right Wing which Wants to Take Away Your Freedom, before it passes overwhelmingly along a party line vote.

This is political cynicism. It is barely even masquerading as anything else. And we are fools if we let ourselves be so easily manipulated.

I was ambivalent about Harvey Milk Day. There’s no need for such a day. There’s no purpose for such a day. But it didn’t harm anyone and wasn’t an expensive waste so I really didn’t much care.

I was troubled about legislation which would require teaching about the contributions to early California history by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (which would involve some pretty creative revisionist storytelling) while banning anything whatsoever that might “negatively reflect” on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This was a purely undisguised propaganda bill related in spirit to St. Petersburg’s bill to ban “homosexual propaganda”. Both are attempts to push a point of view while silencing any differing views. You may recall that I didn’t rejoice over that piece of Big Brother heavy-handedness.

This is the next logical step.

Having banned divergent views in the classroom, the legislature now is entering the private sphere to dictate what can and cannot be said.

Before we get all giddy that our views are winning and their views are banned, let’s ask ourselves what it is that we believe.

I hear so very much about “the h8ters”. But is it hate that we oppose, or just the target? If it is hate, then why do those who complain about them the most do so in terms or bald unvarnished hatred?

I hear that it is awful that Tennessee legislators want to ban support for gay kids in school. Is it the refusal to support that is bad, or is it only the target? Because if it is the refusal to support, why are we not upset about conservative kids who will not no longer be allowed to seek therapy that they find supportive?

Before we go down the “I’m right, so what I do is right” road, let’s recall that history and politics are a pendulum. It is swinging in our direction at the moment. But let our behavior and our responses be such that when it reverses, the structures and principles we set in place will ensure that we are not harmed.

Because the laws we pass today to punish, inhibit, and deny rights to those whom we feel are wrong or bad or inferior will give birth to the laws that will be used against us in the future.

Three Things You Should Consider About CA’s Proposed Ex-Gay Therapy Curbs

A commentary.

Jim Burroway

April 25th, 2012

There has been a lot of very brief reporting on a proposed California law to curb ex-gay therapy. Two things stood out for just about everyone who picked it up: 1) the law would ban ex-gay therapy for those who are under the age of 18, and 2) the law would require that two specific paragraphs be a part of the informed consent form that the patient would have to sign before therapy can begin. That’s a very brief summary of a 1200-word bill, so as you can expect, there are a lot of details being glossed over (that includes our initial report on the proposed law).

1: The Proposed Law Does Not Ban All Ex-Gay Therapy For Those Under 18.

There are a set of definitions that are critical to understanding what this law would do. Under Article 15, we read:

(b) “Psychotherapist” means a physician and surgeon specializing in the practice of psychiatry, a psychologist, a psychological assistant, a psychiatric technician, a marriage and family therapist, a registered marriage and family therapist, intern, or trainee, an educational psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, an associate clinical social worker, a licensed professional clinical counselor, or a registered clinical counselor, intern, or trainee.

Pay attention to what is not included in this list: pastors, ministers and lay counselors. What this list conveys is that those who are licensed or registered, or who are in training to become licensed or registered, would be subjected to the proposed law. In other words, California would be acting under its licensing and registration authority, and that authority does not extend to the religious sphere. Nor can it under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The next two important definitions build on the one above:

(c) “Psychotherapy” means the professional assessment, evaluation, treatment, or counseling of a mental or emotional illness, symptom, or condition by a psychotherapist.

(d) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means psychotherapy aimed at altering the sexual or romantic desires, attractions, or conduct of a person toward people of the same sex so that the desire, attraction, or conduct is eliminated or reduced or might instead be directed toward people of a different sex. It does not include psychotherapy aimed at altering sexual desires, attractions, or conduct toward minors or relatives or regarding sexual activity with another person without that person’s consent. [Emphases mine.]

Having defined “Psychotherapist” in (b), and having restricted “Psychotherapy” to being a practice done according to the person defined as a “Psychotherapist” in (c), and having restricted the definition of “sexual orientation change efforts” according to the definition of “Psychotherapy” in (d), the proposed law narrowly restricts the laws effects to licensed and registered members of the medical and mental health professions.

And so when we get to the ban that everyone’s talking about:

865.2. (a) Under no circumstances shall a patient under 18 years of age undergo sexual orientation change efforts, regardless of the willingness of a patient’s parent, guardian, conservator, or other person to authorize such efforts.

(b) The right to refuse sexual orientation change efforts is not waived by giving informed consent and that consent may be withdrawn at any time prior to, during, or between sessions of sexual orientation change efforts.

(c) Any act of duress or coercion by any person or facility shall invalidate the patient’s consent to sexual orientation change efforts. [Emphasis mine.]

What we see is the consistent use of the phrase “sexual orientation change efforts” which was defined earlier to be very specific to “psychotherapy” offered by “psychotherapists,” each with their own specific definitions under this law.

This is critical, because it won’t prevent kids under 18 from being sent to, say, Exodus Board Member Don Schmierer’s His Way Out Ministries, or Living Stones Ministries or to dozens of other ex-gay ministries or churches. And the provisions covering duress or coercion won’t apply either, because they would apply only to those conditions set up in the definitions, and those definitions do not religious or church-based exgay ministries.

What the bill would do is pose a problem for any licensed professionals who work in those ministries. They would be confronted with a choice between giving up their work in those ministries or giving up their licenses. For those whose practice centers solely on ex-gay therapy, the choice will be an easy one: they will give up their licenses. But for those who depend on income from their practices in providing other forms of therapy, this could be a serious dilemma.

But more importantly, it really places the issue of religious freedom in much sharper focus. Already, the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) was quick out of the gate calling the prosed law “a not so subtle attack on religious liberty.” But it is no such thing. Quite the contrary. For those under 18 and their parents, if they want to enter a program that reinforces their religious beliefs, then they will rightly have the option of turning to a religious organization to do so. Which is as it should be. It is not the responsibility of the mental health establishment to enforce parents’ religious beliefs on those under 18.

2. The Proposed Law May Not Eliminate All Ex-Gay Therapy for Those Under 18 By Licensed Professionals.

This is trickier but equally important, and it goes to the very heart of the dishonesty of some of the ex-gay therapists who are licensed. Professional therapists already have a problem in billing insurance companies for their clients who are trying to change their sexual orientation: Insurance companies won’t foot the bill. There is no code in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual (DSM) for homosexuality, and a code is always required in insurance forms in order to be compensated. So how do those therapists get paid?

Easy. As I’ve personally heard a number of ex-gay therapists explain it, their clients are invariably distressed, anxious, depressed, and so forth. And there;s a whole smorgasbord of codes for them to chose from. And I know of at least one therapist who admitted that he is very careful about what he writes in his clinical notes. That way, if an insurance company wanted to see the records, it would be very difficult to tell that he was providing sexual orientation change therapy.

In other words, ex-gay therapists have already figured out ways around disclosing the kind of therapy they’re doing. Those practices will only become more widespread. And given the sanctity of client-patient privilege, it is very nearly impossible to investigate what a therapist is doing unless the client blows the whistle.

But that does bring us to a potential timebomb for licensed professionals:

865.3. (a) (1) A cause of action may be brought against a psychotherapist by a patient, former patient, or deceased former patient’s parent, child, or sibling if the sexual orientation change efforts were conducted without first obtaining informed consent or by means of therapeutic deception, or if the sexual orientation change efforts were conducted on a patient who was under 18 years of age at any point during the use of the sexual orientation change efforts.

(2) The patient, former patient, or deceased former patient’s parent, child, or sibling may recover actual damages, or statutory damages in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000), whichever is greater, in addition to costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

(3) The time for commencement of the action shall be within eight years of the date the patient or former patient attains the age of majority or within five years of the date the patient, former patient, or deceased former patient’s parent, child, or sibling discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the patient was subjected to sexual orientation change efforts in violation of this article.

(b) Nothing in this article precludes or limits the right of a patient, former patient, or deceased former patient’s parent, child, or sibling to bring a civil action against a psychotherapist arising from other legal claims.

If a therapist does offer sexual orientation change therapy and the client reaches a point where he or she feels damaged by that therapy, the client can seek damages. But if the therapist’s notes and records were already written to obscure the fact that he was offering sexual orientation change therapy, then it would make the patients’ claims more difficult to press. On the other hand, merely defending himself against the charges would prove very costly for the therapist. All licensed therapists would have to carefully weigh that risk if this bill becomes law.

3. The Proposed Bill Inserts California Law Between the Client and Practitioner.

I raise this issue because it is one which should always be carefully considered whenever a bill like this comes along. There are times when I think health care would be much better if government butts out. Two examples are abortion and medical marijuana, which, in my view, have become far too politicized to the point where it’s virtually impossible to discuss the medical merits of those issues. We have right now legislatures mandating invasive and humiliating procedures before an abortion can be obtained under the guise of ensuring the woman’s “informed consent” — as if women had no idea what they were asking for. In my opinion, that’s where some state governments have gone way too far.

Government does play an important role in ensuring that the practice of medicine and psychotherapy (properly defined) is safe and, to a lesser extent, effective. But when government inserts itself between client and practitioner, it really needs to have a damn good reason to do so.  It’s why we have FDA approval for drugs, and it is why doctors in my old hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio, are being rounded up for indiscriminately prescribing Oxycontin (a.k.a. “hillbilly heroin”) to all comers. Those are just two examples where government intrudes into the client-practitioner relationship, and I think we can agree that they are good ones. Medicine (and psychotherapy) is not without risks in the hands of the unscrupulous, unethical, unskilled, or the zealot.

So for me personally, I have no problems with banning ex-gay therapy for those under 18. Parents who have religious reasons for seeking ex-gay therapy for their children will still have plenty of options, and given the actual state of ex-gay therapy there is no reason to believe that those options would be any better or worse than those provided by so-called “experts.” And with regard to ex-gay therapy, informed consent has been a particularly troublesome area all along, which is the second major area this law proposes to address. But I do have one quibble with the legislation. It mandates that the following two paragraphs be included in the informed consent form for the prospective patient to read and sign:

“Having a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a mental disorder. There is no scientific evidence that any types of therapies are effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation change efforts can be harmful. The risks include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.

Medical and mental health associations that oppose the use of sexual orientation change efforts include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.”

To be absolutely precise, those statements aren’t the medical establishment’s opinion on sexual orientation change efforts. Strictly speaking, they represent the California legislature’s interpretationof the medical establishment’s opinion. I think it happens to be a very accurate interpretation today, but it may not be accurate tomorrow. And the problem with California law — and any law — is that it has a way becoming indelibly written far past its prime. Remember, a 1955 law requiring California to conduct research on curing homosexuality wasn’t repealed until 2010. While I doubt that the science will change much, having this statement engraved in law may be good law for 2012, but it’s never good medical practice to have anything set in stone. It would be far better if the legislation directed the state health department to either compose the paragraph, or give it authority to revise it as conditions warrant.

California Senate Proposes Limits On Ex-Gay Therapy

Jim Burroway

April 24th, 2012

California state Sen. Ted Lieu (D) has introduced legislation in the California Senate that would prohibit performing ex-gay thearpy on children under the age of 18. The full text of SB 1172, which was approved with changes by a Senate Subcommittee yesterday, can be found here. It  would also prohibit providing ex-gay therapy to anyone without written informed consent, specifies that the informed consent form must have the following statement:

“Having a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual orientation is not a mental disorder. There is no scientific evidence that any types of therapies are effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation change efforts can be harmful. The risks include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.

Medical and mental health associations that oppose the use of sexual orientation change efforts include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.”

The bill would also specify that “Any act of duress or coercion by any person or facility shall invalidate the patient’s consent to sexual orientation change efforts.” Failure to adhere to these provisions would leave practitioners open to minimum fines of $5,000. It does not, however, ban ex-gay therapy outright. Nevertheless, NARTH is upset over the proposal. While NARTH tries to position itself as a secular, scientific organization, their first fundraising appeal attacking SB 1172 calls the proposal “a not so subtle attack on religious liberty.” NARTH’s more complete objections to SB 1172 can be found here.

Prop 8 Supporters To Petition for En Banc Review

Jim Burroway

February 21st, 2012

Charles Cooper, the lead attorney for the proponents of Proposition 8, told Metro Weekly that they intend to file a petition before today’s end-of-the-day deadline asking that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the decision handed down by a three-judge panel upholding a lower court’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Once the filing is made, the entire 20-member court will vote on whether to hold an en banc review. If they approve the petition, then Judge Alex Kozinski, the circuit’s chief judge, and 10 randomly selected judges from the circuit will hear the en banc appeal. That will involve more briefs, more hearings and more time, virtually guaranteeing that the case won’t reach the U.S. Supreme Court this year.

How’s The Catholic Church’s Celibacy Solution Working Out?

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2012

If you’re gay, the Catholic Church has one answer for you: stay celibate for the rest of your life. The Hartford (CT) Archdiocese has sponsored a chapter of the Catholic ex-gay program Courage to help gays experience all the joys of celibacy:

The Hartford Archdiocese wants gays and lesbians to practice abstinence in the new year.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese announced it was launching a local chapter of a national ministry called Courage “to support men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.”

…Gay attraction is not the sin, the ministry preaches — only when one acts on those feelings is it immoral. “Through support and spiritual intervention, we can help people with same-sex attraction lead moral and fulfilling lives,” Pallotti said. “These people are hurting and so are their families. Doing nothing would be a lack of compassion.”

The article explained that the Archdiocese had some difficulty establishing the chapter over the objections of area deacons who thought Courage didn’t condemn gay people enough. But after attending some workshops, they decided that Courage wasn’t as lib’ral as they feared. Local LGBT leaders saw through the charade:

True Colors Executive Director Robin McHaelen argued Tuesday that the Catholic Church is “trying to have it both ways — keeping the same hostile interpretation of a small number of biblical passages while pretending they are not homophobic.”

“I can’t tell you how many kids I work with who have been spiritually wounded by this and similar religious perspectives,” McHaelen said. True Colors, a nonprofit agency based in Hartford, offers help to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens, some of whom have been kicked out of religious households.

“In my opinion, that’s the abomination,” McHaelen said.

Unlike most other ex-gay organizations, neither Courage nor the Catholic Church promises change in sexual orientation per se. Instead, they promote “the gift of celibacy” for anyone who remains outside a one-man-one-woman marriage.

And speaking of celibacy:

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, resigned Wednesday under the code of canon law that lets bishops step down earlier than the normal retirement age of 75 if they’re sick or for some other reason that makes them unfit for office.

In a letter to the faithful, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said Zavala had told him in December that he had two children who lived with their mother in a different state. Zavala subsequently submitted his resignation to the pope.

Full Prop 8 Court Videos of Thursday’s Hearings

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2011

Two hearings took place on Thursday before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The first hearing considered whether the video tapes taken during the Prop 8 trial should be released:

The second hearing was probably the most entertaining, where judges considered the question of whether being gay and having a partner made Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker ineligible to serve as judge in the case. Because, you know, divorced judges can’t rule in divorce cases, or something.

Liberal activist (Republican) judges

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2011

In today’s political environment, judicial decisions are praised or derided based on outcome not on the quality of argument or the consistency with the constitution. Conservatives of the dittohead variety not only measure a decision by its outcome but then deride the judges who disagree with them as being liberal activist judges legislating from the bench. Republican politicians regularly appeal for votes claiming that they must be elected so more of these liberal activist judges are not appointed.

Well, the Proponents of Proposition 8 were back in court today over the issue of whether Judge Vaughn Walker was not qualified to rule on Proposition 8 because he is gay. Well, actually, they say that because he was in a gay relationship and may have wanted to marry and therefore should have recused himself. This made him a biased liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench. Or, more specifically, a gay Republican liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench.

(One must assume then – to be consistent – that they think that only atheists should judge on freedom of religion cases. But somehow I doubt it.)

Today’s argument is not really about Judge Walker’s decision. That was a different day in front of a different court.

No, today was dedicated to arguing that Judge Ware was a biased liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench. Or, at least, he was when he found that Judge Walker was perfectly capable of judging in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. More specifically, a black Republican liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench.

We submit to you that Judge Ware abused his discretion.

Because, after all, abusing discretion is what those liberal activist judges are all about. Well that didn’t seem to catch much traction with the panel of three judges, including Justice Smith.

But should the Ninth Circuit determine that Judge Ware did not abuse his discretion, you can expect the usual rhetoric. Oh yes, the Ninth is the most liberal of appellate courts and the most often overturned. Because they are liberal activist judges. And should that decision include Justice Randy Smith, then he will be the Mormon Republican liberal activist judge legislating from the bench.

Gosh, maybe those good conservative folk should stop voting for Republicans.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, December 8

Jim Burroway

December 8th, 2011

Ninth Circuit Court Hears Argument on Prop 8 Tapes: San Francisco, CA. Plaintiff in Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v Schwarzenegger) will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninths Circuit today that the Prop 8 trial tapes should be publicly accessible. The testimony of several of Prop 8’s supporters, it turns out, is deeply embarrassing to anti-gay groups, and they have been fighting tooth and nail to keep the public record out of the public’s reach. Last September, Federal District Judge James Ware ruled that “Transparency is pivotal to public perception of the judiciary’s legitimacy and independence” and ordered the tapes release. That order was stayed while Prop 8 supporters appealed. Oral arguments take place today at 2:30 PST.

Ninth Circuit Court Hears Argument on Whether A Gay Judge Can Rule On Marriage: San Francisco, CA. Yes, it’s a busy day in San Francisco. Immediately following oral arguments on whether the Prop 8 tapes should be made public, the same court will hear oral arguments on Prop 8 supporter’s request that Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional should be vacated because Judge Walker was gay. Because, you know, women judges shouldn’t be allowed to judge cases involving women’s issues and black judges shouldn’t be allowed to judge cases involving African-American issues. Or something. Prop 8 supporters tried that argument with Federal District Judge James Ware and lost, so they’re appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court. Oral arguments begin at 3:30 PST.

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

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