Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Article on California's Reparative Therapy Law

Hey all! Just throwing up a link to an article that I wrote for MercatorNet on California's law banning "conversion" therapies for minors. The law is to take effect January 1, and it basically says that sexual orientation change therapies will be prohibited for the under 18 crowd. Rick Fitzgibbons of NARTH has shown up to correct me for my errors...he repeatedly refers to me as "the author" which makes me want to lose my cool and shout "Hey! We've met. We've corresponded. We were on TV together. Call me by my name, dammit!" He also accuses me of trying to silence people who've had positive experiences of orientation change... Apparently if I say I haven't experienced "orientation change" this is tantamount to silencing others? Truly weird response.


  1. I read your article - nothing wrong with it at all - I thought it very balanced and logical. I couldn't have expressed it better. God bless you.

  2. I am so glad you wrote about this! Thank you for your thoughts, as always. I'm in a Master's Counseling program myself right now, and this topic has come up often. You enumerated many things that were a part of my own initial response to the issue - most centrally, that at the heart of the issue is the question of a competent and ethical therapist. A good, competent therapist should always uphold the rights and dignity of a minor and be wary of the dynamics with the parents/authority figures or other hindrances to a fully informed consent (like you mentioned - being forced, feeling pressured to please parents, not being mature enough to make autonomous decisions, etc). This applies in all cases of therapy with minors of course, not just SSA. Also, I understand the caution attached to reparative therapy because of the lack of thorough, peer-reviewed, longitudinal studies (I hope we see some some day). However, all that being said, I am still not sure if passing such a law was the best answer to the situation. While the well being of the minors must be upheld and protected (and thus I can begin to understand the rational behind passing a law to protect them!) - doesn't this have more to do with the training standards for Licensed Professional Counselors? Which, in California, couldn't be called cutting edge - California only began licensing mental health counselors in 2011 - they were one of the last, if not the last state to standardize the licensing procedure. If the therapists were doing their job well - engaging in the authentic, ethical practice of therapy that could support a minor with SSA who wanted help (as you outlined so well in your article!!), and if the therapist was ethically putting into practice the more well researched aspects of the approach (like those you mentioned that focus on chastity and self-possession), would there be a need for a law to legislate this?

    P.S. I read Rick Fitzgibbons reply, and I think you replied rather well.

    Thank you for all that you do!!

  3. A very good and helpful article -- something I've come to expect from you. Why do people have such a time distinguishing inclination/desire/attraction/temptation from action? Everyone, I would dare to say without exception, has unwanted sexual attractions of one sort or another, and anyone who does not exercise choice with regard to response heads toward negative results. A secular therapy or a spiritual guidance that helps one to choose what is good and reject what is not can be a powerfully positive force; but attempts to deny that one is drawn as one is drawn are capable of working serious and deep harm. Been there, done that, not through therapy, but through religious experience. I believed and declared that I had been entirely freed of my homosexual desire. I had not been. My marriage (to a woman I deeply loved) suffered from these false expectations. I lost her to cancer, but, had she lived, would probably have lost her to that.

    I am what I am. It is possible that could change, but not usual. I believe that the best objective for any of us is, having arrived at a knowledge of what is right and wrong in practice, to seek ways to live out our ethics and morality with honesty and openness about the difficulties we may have in doing so.

    "Hi, I'm So-and-so, and I am an alcoholic," says the long-sober member of AA as he describes where he came from, the struggles he how has, and the success he's had in living it out. That seems like a good model for all of us in dealing with our temptations.

    Hi, I'm Ed, and I am queer. I chose marriage to a beautiful woman, and I now choose to be celibate. Temptation goes on, but, like the alcoholic who says NO to the next drink, I say NO to each temptation as it comes along, and God helps me day by day.

  4. I started a discussion on conversion therapy a couple of days ago. After I read your article I provided a link to it in the thread.

    You'd be more then welcome to join our discussion at the Reasonable Faith forum, if you wish. I, for one, would be interested in hearing more from your perspective.

  5. Melinda,

    I'm glad to see that you've latched onto Dr. Warren Throckmorton's Blog. As a member of NARTH for 9 years, he's well aware of the thinking that goes on in that organization.

    Also, as you may well know, he is a co-founder of the Sexual Identity Therapy Framework (SITF) which helps persons with same sex attraction align their behavior with their faith beliefs.

    His blog is an excellent source for the latest science and discussion on newly released studies. Pay attention for posts by 'Zoe Brain' ... she is in fact an actual rocket scientist. Her posts are filled with great stuff, and is her blog.

  6. Actually, Melinda, I've come across a lot of things online claiming that Zoe is a fake. I am not sure what to think because the science is completely over my head. Thoughts?

  7. Not familiar with Zoe Brain myself...most science is over my head, which is part of the reason that I find NARTH's stuff painfully embarrassing: it's sufficiently unsophisticated that a lit-geek armchair philosopher can completely follow it and work out the logical and methodological flaws in the studies without any outside assistance...

  8. Not familiar with Zoe Brain myself...most science is over my head, which is part of the reason that I find NARTH's stuff painfully embarrassing: it's sufficiently unsophisticated that a lit-geek armchair philosopher can completely follow it and work out the logical and methodological flaws in the studies without any outside assistance...

  9. A few questions to all here:

    Are same sex attractions just temptations? Can we simply view being gay as similar to getting angry?

    Ed Pacht, I would answer a resounding NO to these questions. There is absolutely no comparison to being an alcoholic and being gay.

    I don't see being queer as a temptation. But, that's just me.

  10. You'll find a lot of posts proclaiming that I'm a fake, I don't exist (ie a sockpuppet), that I'm a sex offender, a bald man in a wheelchair on welfare, that I have two wives (one married at age 10 in the UK) and a variable number of children that have disowned me.

    These stories all originate from two sources, neither of which have met me, or even live in the same hemisphere.

    How they know these "facts" they don't say.

    They dismiss the various papers I've written as hacker-inserted forgeries, since I can't possibly be the Lecturer at the Australian National University that I claim to be.

    The stories have been widely repeated though by people who are rather more credulous than they should be. They tend to stop when their "trusted sources" contradict themselves with ever more bizarre flights of fancy.

    But no matter. Unless you believe (as one claimed) that I'm an artifact of a nefarious group that have hacked PubMed and University Libraries worldwide since the 1990's, what matters is not who I am, but the articles I reference.

    Getting back on topic, may I draw your attention to this page of URLs and abstracts which some researchers have found useful?

  11. Hi Melinda,

    I just found your blog today. I'm a member of Courage as well. I left the gay lifestyle three years ago and have benefited tremendously from Reparative Therapy with Catholic psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi ( ) and through Journey into Manhood ( ). My SSA has been reduced significantly.

    I found I agreed with a lot of what you wrote in the article, but I would come to a different conclusion. The reason being is that Reparative Therapy is all about healing emotional wounds and teenagers are most able to benefit from it. It is by far the BEST thing ANY parent could do for their SSA son or daughter.

    I WISH I had been able to get this therapy when I was younger and perhaps I wouldn't have wasted 12 years of my life in the gay lifestyle which was destructive to every aspect of my life.

    I know many of the therapists who help youth and I volunteered to help staff a program this past summer. I understand your concern that parents can exert undue pressure, but one of the benefits of working with a Reparative Therapist is that they will be able to help defend the youth from this.

    Reparative Therapy doesn't claim to have a "cure" or to be able to eliminate all SSA, but it does help reduce it and heal the underlying emotional wounds that drive it.

    It would be far worse for these youth to be taken to a Pro-Gay counselor and be told they were "born gay" and should embrace that false identity. I was told that by a counselor when I was 14 years old. It would have been far better if she had told me I was "born to be a Heroin addict" and then shoved a needle in my arm.

  12. Many bisexuals choose to only seek out those of the opposite sex.

    Many gays choose to be celibate - quite a few straights too.

    Some asexuals choose to engage in sexual activity with those they love.

    That doesn't stop them from being bi, gay, straight, or asexual respectively.

    Jeremy, I'm glad you're happier, but if you're ex-Gay, the Pope is ex-straight.

  13. Teresa G. I'm sorry, but I can't accept your bald and unsupported statement that "There is absolutely no comparison to being an alcoholic and being gay." As a now-celibate gay man with a number of alcoholic friends, I find the similarities to be striking indeed. There is an innate inclination, in both cases, that need not be, but is certainly capable of becoming a destructive addiction. In both cases one is constantly tempted toward unwise (and, if one has not rejected Catholic morality, sinful) behaviors. Being gay and being alcoholic are, to my mind, both innate and morally neutral states of being - simply the way things are. In both cases, temptation does exist which call one to morally unacceptable action. Yielding to those temptations is both sin and sickness.

  14. The following is my opinion only ... an opinion based on "being there, done that, bought the t-shirt", so-to-speak. So, please, read the following as one person's view.

    Ah, Ed, having alcoholic friends is not being an alcoholic. Being gay is not an addiction, alcoholism is. There is a difference: a difference of great import. A difference with many distinctions. Any supposed similarities are superficial explanations that do an injustice to both alcoholism and being queer. And, no Ed, alcoholics are not constantly tempted toward unwise, sinful behaviors.

    Being gay is not a temptation.

    As an aside: being addicted to sex has nothing whatever to do with being str8, gay or bi. It's an equal opportunity addiction. Ask your average porn user, a str8 Christian male, about that.

    Courage fosters the notion of being gay as an addiction, that's why they use the 12-Step Program of A.A. It's a bad model to use in this regard, because being gay, I repeat, is not an addiction.

    I find it very troubling that for some unknown reason, in the Catholic world, the constant refrain for a person with same sex sexual attractions is I better get onboard with the I'm disordered narrative.

    Oh, but you'll (the Royal You) quickly reply, you as a person aren't disordered, it's just your attractions. I find that a distinction without a difference. In harsh terms, I'd say that's a copout to what's happening with boots on the ground. It's trying to put lipstick on the pig, and hoping no one knows it's really just a pig.

    Who owns those attractions, from what wellspring do they bubble up, from whence do they come, except from the 'me' of me.

    2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others. (Taken from the CCC)

    If my Sexuality, which happens to be homosexuality, affects all aspects of my human personhood in the unity of my body and soul ... then, I argue syllogistically from Paragraph 2332 of the CCC, my existential personhood in my body and soul is disordered ... not just my attractions, as others would like to state.

    As you can tell, I don't quite agree with the CCC in its exposition of Sexuality. And, please, remember, what I've commented here is my opinion, only. This is not meant as a condemnation of anyone else's opinion.


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