Lying About The Hate Crime Bill, #1: “The Thirty Sexual Orientations”

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2009

You can always tell when our opponents are really scared. Their lies become more ridiculous. Such is the case with the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (also known as the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act). The proposed legislation expands the already existing federal hate crime law to include violent crimes based on the victim\’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and/or disability. The current law already covers actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color and religion.

One of the most egregious lies is this one, as told by the American Family Association:

The Hate Crime law, S.909 (and HR1913), will make 30 sexual orientations federally-protected. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has published 30 such sexual orientations that, because of Congress’s refusal to define “sexual orientation,” will be protected under this legislation.

Focus On the Family’s James Dobson also jumped on the bandwagon as well:

As I’m recording this video greeting, there’s a so-called hate crimes bill that’s working its way through the congress that contains no adequate safeguards to protect the preaching of God’s word. Because the liberals in Congress would not define sexual orientation, we have to assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders identified as such by the American Psychiatric Association. Let me read just a few of them: bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality. Those are just a few. And I have to ask, have we gone completely mad?

Well, it appears that Dobson has. He, the AFA, the Traditional Values Coalition, Liberty Counsel, and many, many others, are pushing this obnoxious notion. Let’s break it all down, shall we?

“Congress would not define sexual orientation”
This line was brought up when the Hate Crimes Act was working its way though the House Judiciary Committee. During the hearing, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) sought to add an amendment to the bill indicating that the term sexual orientation does not include pedophilia.

This attempted amendment was, of course, a deliberate attempt to play on the slander that homosexuality is equivalent to child molestation — a slander that has no basis in the professional literature. But Rep. King pressed on in his attempt to write that slander into U.S. law, claiming that the law doesn’t define sexual orientation.

The problem, of course, is that the federal law which directs the FBI to collect hate crime statistics already includes a very specific definition of sexual orientation. The law’s definition goes like this:

As used in this section, the term “sexual orientation” means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.

It couldn’t be much clearer than that. Sexual orientation is exactly what everyone knows it to be: an orientation based on one’s own gender and the gender to which that individual is sexually attracted.

“The APA Defines Thirty Sexual Orientations”
But what if Federal law hadn’t already defined sexual orientation and we had to fall back on the American Psychiatric Association’s definition? Well, it turns out that the APA’s official definition is not much different from the federal government’s. The APA’s official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR, 2000) offers a very precise definition of how clinicians should describe a client’s sexual orientation:

For sexually mature individuals, the following specifiers may be noted based on the individual’s sexual orientation: Sexually Attracted to Males, Sexually Attracted to Females, Sexually Attracted to Both, and Sexually Attracted to Neither. [Emphasis in the original]

In other words, the APA defines only four sexual orientations. And they do so in order to provide a consistent description of an individual’s sexual orientation. It is not a diagnosis itself, since homosexuality is not listed as a mental disorder.  And just so everyone’s clear on exactly what the APA means by their very short description of sexual orientation, they provided an expanded discussion on their web site:

Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).

So where did the list of thirty “sexual orientations” come from? Let’s turn again to the APA’s DSM-IV-TR under the heading of “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders,” namely the APA’s examples of sexual paraphilias:

The Paraphilias are characterized by recurrent, intense sexual urges, fantasies, or behaviors that involve unusual objects, activities, or situations and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The Paraphilias include Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Transvestic Fetishism, Voyeurism, and Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified.

The DSM goes further, identifying specific criteria for diagnosing these various paraphilias, something that the DSM does not do for sexual orientation. And the reason is simple: sexual paraphilias are mental disorders according to the DSM, while homosexuality is not. Which is why the DSM devotes several pages to sexual paraphilias — and describes them as an impairment to normal functioning — but just a few words to consensual adult homosexuality, heterosexuality or bisexuality, which the APA reminds us “is not an illness, a mental disorder, or an emotional problem.”

So just to be clear:

  • Sexual orientation is strictly limited to the realms of homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality.
  • All the other stuff — pedophilia, exhibitionism, masochism, and the other twenty-seven paraphilias are not sexual orientations. Homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality are not paraphilias.
  • The proposed hate crime laws covers only sexual orientation, and not paraphilias.

In other words, you can still punch a pedophile and not risk running afoul of the proposed hate crime law. I wouldn’t recommend it — you’d still be liable for assault charges, but there would be no federal hate crime enhancements involved.

If you won’t believe me, then how about Dr. Jack Drescher? He’s a member of the APA’s DSM-V Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, one of the groups working on the next revision of the APA’s manual. He confirmed everything I said, and went further:

Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, nor would pedophiles be covered by a law protecting people for their sexual orientation. Religious social conservatives who oppose gay rights are using terms that sound like science, as opposed to actual science, to make unwarranted and malicious comparisons between homosexuality and pedophilia. Not only is this scare tactic untruthful, it reveals how little respect some religious conservative leaders have for the intelligence of the people they are trying to persuade.

It is indeed a scare tactic, and anti-gay activists know full well that it is a blatant distortion of the APA’s position on sexual orientation and paraphilias. Remember, Dobson holds a Ph.D. in psychology. He clearly knows that he’s lying, and he has chosen to do so as a deliberate tactic. There’s simply no other plausable explanation. And as the bill comes closer to passing and being signed into law, their rhetoric is likely to get worse, not better. Stay tuned.

See also:
Lying About The Hate Crime Bill, #2: “A Danger To Religious Freedom”
Lying About The Hate Crime Bill, #1: “The Thirty Sexual Orientations”

Christopher Waldrop

May 11th, 2009

It’s sad, but just the statement that “[r]eligious social conservatives….are using terms that sound like science, as opposed to actual science” doesn’t just apply to the area of gay rights but to areas across the spectrum, including education, where religious social conservatives use fancy-sounding terms like “intelligent design” to oppose the teaching of actual science.

It just amazes me that Dobson has a Ph.D. in anything. I can understand ignorance, and, even an intelligent person can make a bad decision if given false information, but willful ignorance and deliberate spreading of misinformation are two things I just can’t tolerate.


May 11th, 2009

Dobson et al., who claim to be on the side of God, need to reflect on Job xiii.7: “Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?”


May 11th, 2009

The APA removed homosexuality as a disorder in 1973. Dobson received his PhD in 1967. Hmmmm.

Timothy Kincaid

May 11th, 2009

Remember, Dobson holds a Ph.D. in psychology. He clearly knows that he’s lying, and he has chosen to do so as a deliberate tactic. There’s simply no other plausable explanation.

very good point.

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2009

I still find it hard to wrap my head around how someone who claims to be all about morality can think its okay to lie like that.

Friend Of Jonathan

May 11th, 2009

Something we should be making very clear, and very public – the proposed change protects everyone.

By using the word ‘sexual orientation’ – if someone is attacked for being heterosexual, that is a hate crime too. Doesn’t happen often, maybe 0.1%, but hets deserve protection of hate crimes too, even if such crimes are rare.

The phrase ‘gender identity’ though designed to acknowledge T’s of all kinds – protects anyone who is ever attacked because of how he or she expresses his/her sense of his/her gender.

And the amendment adds protection for disabled people – anyone could become disabled, and then could be attacked as a result.

Regan DuCasse

May 11th, 2009

Good point Laura. Dr. Dobson’s prefix looks impressive, but he hasn’t kept up on his education, new information or research in nearly my entire lifetime. Add to that, say a psychologist that could be a specialist for individuals from socio/politically isolated minorities.
Say someone who could help the stress of a black person living in a harsh Jim Crow environment, or women under Shari’a.

The same for a gay youngster living under similar conditions as these. He doesn’t have the qualification, nor standard of emotional compassion to care to be the BEST at his profession.

He might have a degree, that doesn’t mean he was ever good at specific applications in a world changing rapidly for men like him.

We know he distorted the research of OTHER doctors whose findings were either neutral or could easily refute what he continues to say about gay people. Even when those researchers directly told Dobson to stop, he didn’t.

And the Constitution doesn’t allow for an individual to be denied ANY form of civil right or legal protections based on a diagnosed clinical disorder.

After all, even those with schizophrenia (or genetic diseases) can marry and bear children freely.

And a person with a psychological degree SHOULD know the difference between a sexual orientation and a fetish or paraphilia.

In the case of orientations, there is full ADULT emotional attachment, equal attraction and consenting participation.

That’s not true of paraphilias, necessarily.

The fear mongerers out there are counted on to not do their own homework, or expect any serious expertise from the other side. It’s much easier to pretend it doesn’t exist or ignore it.

Laziness and lack of courage is something nobody has time for.

Isn’t there a law against someone posing as a qualified doctor, LYING about clinical information and distorting data?

Especially if it prove dangerous to the group (or those suspected of being of it) he’s lying about?

I can’t help but think of little Carl Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrara and the price they paid for such lies.
This is why perhaps, maybe people who are clergy, doctors, educators and politicians are to be held MORE accountable for what they say.

They, more than anyone should know that their free speech, really isn’t.


May 11th, 2009

In 2007, there were 27 recorded hate crimes against perceived heterosexuality (, about 2% of the total.

Depending on how one counts them, there are more than the 4 classical sexual orientations:

Androphile – a person attracted to men
Gynephile – a person attracted to women
Pansexual – a person who does not take gender into account and is attracted to people outside the gender binary, eg genderqueer, androgynes, intersex, etc

I could add more, but they get more grey (chasers, autogynephiles, etc).

Timothy Kincaid

May 11th, 2009

There is no “depending on how one counts them”. When quoting the APA, one “counts them” the way the APA counts them.

Bruno Kravitz

May 11th, 2009

How tragic for fundamentalist christians — THIRTY whole categories of people that they won’t be able to project their hatred onto. I mean, they might actually have to start acting as Jesus Christ told them to act in the first place: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Go figure…


May 11th, 2009

There are indeed some people within psychiatry arguing that pedophilia is an orientation and should be treated as such. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that it might someday be listed.

HOWEVER!! In NO way would that excuse assaulting children!

It’s reasonable to say that you shouldn’t punish someone simply for their desires… but if they act on those desires and commit CRIMES, then they’d still go to jail!

Priya Lynn

May 11th, 2009

Emmy there may be some pedophiles arguing that pedophilia is an orientation but I don’t believe any professional member of any of the major mental health organizations is making that argument.


May 11th, 2009

You know I can’t help but think this is just a natural evolution of the rampant use of the term same sex attraction, by redefining sexuality as sexual attraction, the next logical jump is that paraphilia are just another sexuality.

Those concerned with winning this fight should be careful of the language that is used by both sides. I am sure most people fall right into the trap of defining their “sexuality” (a term already causing problems due to defining it as a “sex thing”) as who they are attracted to, but that is not really what sexuality is. Sure your attractions lead to that first glace and who you talk to in a crowded room, but then that’s true of everyone and we really don’t see many heterosexuals trying to describe their sexuality as skinny attracted or fat attracted or pretty attracted, we don’t see a move to create 30 sub classes of heterosexuality, so why do we allow “same sex attracted” or say that sexuality is “who we are attracted to”? Who you pair bond with, who you want to marry, who you spend your evenings with is far more then who you are “attracted to” (heck that’s half of the e-harmony add copy, “I would never have signaled her out but once we met we clicked”), it is who you are comfortable around and who you are compatible with. There should be a concision effort to control the definition of sexuality as who you are most compatible with emotionally and romantically and physically, not just who you are attracted to. If we remove that emotional aspects we are going to lose to the argument that sexual orientation is just an attraction and that is just a short logical jump to paraphilia.

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2009

Kith, Ephilei and Bruno,

The whole point of the post is that the APA — who anti-gay activists claim to be citing — has already clearly defined what is meant by sexual orientation and what is meant by paraphilia. Sexual orientation has only to do with gender and nothing else.

There are not 30 subclasses of heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or asexuality. Those 30 paraphilias are outside and distinct from sexual orientation. While there is some crossover (a heterosexual pedophile, a bisexual fetishist, for example), sexual orientation and paraphilia are completely distinct and separate from each other, as far as the APA is concerned.

More specifically, sexual orientation is not a cause for treatment as a mental disorder, while paraphilias are.

None of this has anything to do with having a thing for redheads or chubby people or people of a particular race. Those categories are neither sexual orientations as defined by the APA, nor are they paraphilias as defined by the APA. They are simply personal preferences and nothing more.

David C.

May 11th, 2009

To me, this boils down to just one thing: vilify gay people and those that want protection of alternative family structures and themselves. It is another example of the Big Lie:

…a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”


May 11th, 2009


Why yes, the APA clearly defines sexual orientation, I’m not going to disagree with you, also note I made no attempt to disagree with the APA. I would also like to point out that the APA also clearly state that Reparitive therapy isn’t advised, is mostly likely harmful and shouldn’t be done. I don’t see that stopping the spread of lies on that subject either.

My point had little to do with what the APA thinks, or what the “truth” of the matter is. My point was that this door was specifically pushed open by the fact that people on “pro-gay” side of the battle refuse to control the language. We let our opponents do most of that. We let them create terms like SSA, we don’t properly describe what “sexuality” really means, instead taking the shortcuts of using attraction and ignoring the emotional components. I’d further argue that in the many cases the “Pro-gay” side get into the language making game our desire for “inclusiveness”, becomes our undoing. Pansexual seems like the simplest example of this, it replaced a perfectly good word bisexual with a muddy word that even the people who use it can’t agree on it’s definition.

I do not wish to be overly argumentative on this, yet my argument was about the use and misuses of language some quite deliberate that lead to this. I would hate to see that point get lost because so many feel that “our” Holy See, the APA, have already defined the “truth” on the subject.

Priya Lynn

May 12th, 2009

Well Kith, you totally lost me. I have no problem with anti-gays or gays using the phrase “same sex attracted” – that is what it means to be gay. Its a much more honest phrase than the claim that engaging in same sex sex is what makes one gay.

If you don’t mind I’ll take the word of the APA over you when it comes to same sex attraction.

quo III

May 12th, 2009

Both sides of this dispute seem to be taking it for granted that extending hate crime protections to people who have paraphilias actually would be a bad idea. Yet if one grants, for the sake of argument, that there should be a legally recognised class of hate crimes, then there appears to be no reason why people involved in non-violent paraphilias should not also be protected under them.

It’s just dishonest for gay activists not to admit this. Even though there is no rational reason not to protect people involved in paraphilias that aren’t violent or abusive, they won’t admit this, because it would simply be too embarrassing. They don’t want a wonderful, dignified cause like gay rights to be associated with protecting people who think it’s sexy to wear diapers, or to do other things that are equally tacky.

Timothy Kincaid

May 12th, 2009

No, quo III

You are incorrect. We aren’t discussion whether to protect paraphiliacs would be a bad idea or a good idea.

We are discussing how all too frequently anti-gays are blatant liars.

Stick to the topic. If you want to advance a pro-paraphilia agenda, do so in your own space, not ours. I won’t have our exposure of anti-gay lies hijacked by your desire to talk about sexual peculiarities.

quo III

May 12th, 2009


You write, “We are discussing how all too frequently anti-gays are blatant liars.”

I see. So what you’re saying is, no one can comment here unless they agree with you? That’s the first time I’ve heard that one here. As far as I’m concerned, my comments are indeed relevant (and no, they aren’t motivated by any desire to talk about paraphilia for its own sake).

I assume that the main reason you don’t like my comments is because I am disagreeing with you and you can’t think of a good response.

Timothy Kincaid

May 12th, 2009


Keep it to the subject and I’m fine. This is about “lying about the hate crime bill”. If you want to talk about the hate crime bill or about lying I’ll be fine. If you want to discuss fethishes – while it might be fun – we aren’t doing that at this time.

Keep it relevant.

quo III

May 12th, 2009


I’m confused here. I don’t understand how discussing the hate crimes bill is not relevant to “lying about the hate crimes bill.”

Could you please clarify matters? Also, you don’t seem to have realised that my posts weren’t about fetishes as such, any more than your posts were.

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2009

I think if there were statistical evidence that people who wore diapers were at a significant risk of being singled out for a violent crime because perpetrators hold an animus against people who wore diapers, then I would probably agree that maybe we should be talking about extending hate crime protections for people who wear diapers.

But as far as I know, we don’t have a history of diaper-wearer-bashing in this country — unless, that is, there’s a vast conspiracy on the part of the media not to discuss the rash (excuse the pun) of diaper-wearer-bashing that is sweeping the nation.

But there has been a long history of violence and overt intimidation motivated by race, religion and national origin, which is why those categories are currently protected by law. And the FBI documents a very firm history of violence that is motivated by sexual orientation — and crimes based on sexual orientation are more violent than the other categories.

I think it’s important that we enact laws to solve real problems, and not problems that don’t seem to exist.

Priya Lynn

May 12th, 2009

Nicely summed up Jim.

Jason D

May 12th, 2009

“Both sides of this dispute seem to be taking it for granted that extending hate crime protections to people who have paraphilias actually would be a bad idea.”

No, quo, it’s irrelevant to the subject of Hate Crimes legislation at this time.

“Sexual Orientation” would also not cover hate crimes against sextents or orienteers! That doesn’t mean we’re against protections for both, should it be necessary. But that’s not what’s on the table at this time.

This deliberate confusion of sexual orientation with legitimate mental disorders of a sexual nature was a scare tactic, a mean-spirited one intended to cloud the issue (seems to have worked on you in particular) and make the legislation appear more ominous and threatening than it actually is. They can’t argue the case on it’s merits, or lack thereof, so they have to resort to blatant lies, distortions, and scare tactics.

Which should not be news to anyone who reads this website on a regular basis.

Ben in Oakland

May 12th, 2009

“This deliberate confusion of sexual orientation with legitimate mental disorders of a sexual nature “…

Jason, while normally I agree with you almost as much as I agree with me, this one stopped me for a bit. Let’s backtrack to the APA in 1973 in Honolulu:

The reason the APA dropped homosexuality from its list of mental disorders was that there was absolutely no evidence that being gay is a mental disorder, though there was plenty of evidence that a lot of people didn’t like it, and confused their dislike with sincere medical belief.They had a definition of mental disorder, but to make it stick for gay people they had to ignore their own definition, and say that “Of course. Gay people are mentally disordered BY definition. Just not the definition we apply to everyone else.” It could not hold up to any kind of scientific scrutiny, not that much of psychiatry can. The whole procedure underlined that prejudice was really the defining issue, not homosexuality, as is often the case on issues around sexuality in our deeply puritanical culture.

(On a side note, I used to have a boyfriend who didn’t want to shave his stuff because he thought that it put too much attention there. People might think he was gay and thought ‘too much’ about sex, and you shouldn’t– well, you know. When I pointed out that he is gay, he DID think a lot about it, and liked lots of attention there, he got over himself. but I digress. It’s just an illustration of the twisty ways of sex). Anyway…

Not surprisingly, religious reactions to gay people are very similar. First, a whole category of people is defined as mentally ill (or particularly sinful) with no scientific or experiential (or biblical) reason to do so, only a cultural and religious prejudice. They they have a vote, and presto-change-o, a whole category of people are “cured” overnight. Then, the people who whose livelihood depend on the the “mental illness” issue try to make another vote to make all of those people “sick” again. Sounds just like the Episcopal Church. Clearly, not a matter of good science or good medicine– or good theology– just prejudice. You might call it the politics– or theology– of diagnosis.

A lot of what passes for claiming paraphilia as a sexual disorder is just the mere fact that some people don’t share that particular taste. for example, Diaper Dave was engaging in, I guess, paraphilia that I don’t find particularly attractive. Actually, I don’t find it attractive at all. I also find his brand of conservative hypocrisy unattractive. neither is an illness or even worthy of psychiatric attention.

And thus you are right in your conclusion. It’s another attempt to write an unacknowledged subtext into a conversation that is ostensibly about something else. much like “teaching” gay marriage in school was deliberately conflated with “teaching your children homosexuality, all in an attempt to engage in the gays-are-gonna-get-your-childrenfear-mongering that was a major reason for the success of prop. 8. They couldn’t do much with the child molestation thingy any more– too many people are educated, at least those that aren’t bible-believing Christians of the cherry picking variety. (Jimmy Swaggart: Homosexuality is the WORST sin. No it isn’t, Jimmy. Hypocrisy is miles ahead of it). so they did the next best thing.

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