- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Congress implored to denounce sexual-orientation therapy
In the latest attack on therapies aimed at helping gay patients who want to become heterosexual, a congresswoman from California said Wednesday that she was introducing a resolution calling on Congress to denounce the practice.
Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat, is proposing the resolution as two lawsuits move through federal court challenging a new California law to ban minors from receiving "sexual-orientation change efforts" under any circumstance.
In a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday, Ms. Speier said she was introducing her Stop Harming Our Kids resolution to "bring us some reality checks" about sexuality.
"Let's get this straight," she said. "Being gay, lesbian [or] transgender is not a disease to be cured or a mental health issue to be treated."
Therapies aimed at helping someone go from gay to straight are "discredited" and "ineffective," and minors should not be subjected to them, she said.
She added that she will investigate whether taxpayer funds in Medicaid or Tricare, the Pentagon's health care system, have been used to reimburse therapists offering such counseling.
Practitioners of so-called "sexual reparative therapies" defend the practice, as do some conservative religious organizations, saying efforts to curb their work violate their right to freedom of religion and speech. Many of the most invasive practices once employed have been stopped, they say, and they argue that a blanket ban will hurt young people who want to fight homosexual feelings on religious or moral grounds and will only lead to more unregulated efforts.
Ms. Speier was joined by two people who said they underwent "gay conversion quackery" and advocates for groups that oppose such therapies, including the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"I'm telling my story to put an end to this sham," said Jerry Spencer, 23.
He said he was forced by his conservative Catholic parents to undergo conversion therapy from age 14 to almost 20.
The therapy, which he said was like torture at times, didn't work because "being gay is simply who we are."
Sheldon Bruck said he underwent therapy for several weeks at Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing to escape his same-sex attractions. Instead, he said, the therapy led him to depression, anxiety and estrangement from his family, especially his mother.
Mr. Bruck is one of six plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in New Jersey against the program. The complaint, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and colleagues, alleges that officials at the organization engaged in consumer fraud by charging people for deceptive, false and fraudulent conversion-therapy services.
In September, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed first-in-the-nation legislation to prevent minors from receiving sexual-orientation change therapy even if the children or their parents want it.
In his signing statement, Mr. Brown said the therapies "have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."
Gay rights groups such as Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights co-sponsored the California legislation, which forbids minors from receiving counseling that attempts to "change behaviors, or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex."
However, groups that provide sexual-orientation change efforts, teenage clients and people who say they have successfully changed their sexual orientations to become heterosexual are challenging the California law. Two lawsuits have been filed to block the law from taking effect Jan. 1.
"This law places the state between the client and the counselor," said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association for Christian Counselors, as well as several parents and teens who want to continue sexual-orientation change therapy.
A second lawsuit was filed by the Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of a clergyman who also is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a psychiatrist, and a successful former patient of sexual-orientation change efforts. They say the law imposes "sweeping new restrictions on communication between mental health professionals and their patients" and "invades family privacy, freedom of religion, and speech."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Panel seeks 'surveillance' system for gay blood donors
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Embryonic stem cell research falls out of favor as scientists go ethical
- With new HIV research, FDA may let gay men donate blood
Latest Blog Entries
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
- House votes to reject Obama welfare shift
- Report: Two out of three Democrats support gay marriage
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow