Attempts to ban the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “ex-gay” therapy have stalled in the U.S. due to political pressure from Christians and other conservatives.
MSNBC reported that even as same-sex marriage supporters rack up court victories against bans on same-sex marriage in state after state, anti-LGBT advocates are painting themselves as a discriminated-against minority in order to rally their base and fight the effort to protect minors from the practice.
“The debate is turning into one where the people who want to sell this are playing the victim card. They are saying they are being discriminated against,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s David Dinielli. “This is not a political issue, this is about the lives, health and safety of young people. There are things we all know doctors shouldn’t do to people, this is one of them.”
Subjecting minors to conversion or “reparative” therapy was outlawed in California two years ago, followed by New Jersey. Psychiatric professionals said that the practice only makes people more conflicted about their same-sex attractions and can result in serious emotional and mental trauma for patients.
Exodus International — one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to purportedly “curing” people of same-sex attraction — closed its doors in 2013. Its president, Alan Chambers issued a statement apologizing to the many LGBT people who were hurt, confused and punished by his organization.
“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” said Chambers. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”
In spite of the collapse of the “ex-gay” vanguard and the mountain of scientific evidence that sexuality is an immutable trait, some conservative Christian dead-enders persist in pushing a pro-reparation agenda.
Social conservatives, finding themselves losing ground with the U.S. public on a broad range of issues, are digging in their heels on the belief that same-sex attractions can be driven out of people by means of prayer and a closer relationship to God.
The SPLC is suing the right-leaning Jewish group JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) for fraud over its claims that it can “cure” people of same-sex attractions.
“I would not say we’re having a hard time, on the contrary all of these efforts are coming to the forefront, and I would say they’re very revealing of the quackery that goes on,” Dinielli told MSNBC. “Lots of things take more than one attempt, and we’re certain that the next set of legislative sessions there will be some successes.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) reported Friday that legislative efforts to ban reparative therapy in Florida, Washington, Hawaii, Illinois and other states have stalled, while the legislative proposal was withdrawn altogether in Maryland.
Shannon Minter of the NCLR told MSNBC that activists are looking down the road and feeling somewhat optimistic about the future of such legislation.
“This is an issue we see people rally around to a degree we don’t often see,” said Minter. “I think these bills are doing remarkably well, and I think this year we’ll see at least another handful pass.”