NJ Judge Won’t Let ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy ‘Experts’ Testify

New Jersey already has a law banning “ex-gay” reversion therapy and now the Southern Poverty Law Center has filed suit against an organization that performs such therapy claiming that they committed fraud by promising a result they could not deliver (turning a gay person straight). The judge in that case has now ruled out testimony from “experts” who advocate “ex-gay” therapy:

A New Jersey judge is currently considering a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on behalf of two former patients and three parents of patients of JONAH, a Jewish ex-gay ministry. The suit alleges that JONAH broke consumer fraud laws by promising results (a change in sexual orientation) it could not delivery, and indeed for causing harm in the process. The judge previously indicated that the so-called therapists may indeed be liable, and has now decided that no pro-ex-gay therapy experts will be permitted to testify in the case.

Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. wrote that “the theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but — like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it — instead is outdated and refuted.”

Among the experts Bariso has excluded are Joseph Nicolosi, Christopher Doyle, Dr. James Phelan, and Dr. John Diggs. Nicolosi is often considered the father of modern-day reparative therapy, and he also founded NARTH, the professional network for ex-gay therapists, of which Phelan is also a previous leader. Doyle heads up the ex-gay group Voice of the Voiceless, which lately has tried to raise the profile of “ex-gay pride” by holding secret events that seemingly few people attend.

Excellent. There is no such thing as an “expert” in “ex-gay” therapy.

About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    There is no such thing as an “expert” in “ex-gay” therapy.

    There are, and they’re fabulous!

  • lldayo

    Excellent. There is no such thing as an “expert” in “ex-gay” therapy.

    Just for fun I googled “expert on bull crap” and Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck both showed up in links.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    How many members of Judge Bariso’s family are currently held hostage by the Gay Mafia™?

  • Loqi

    There is no such thing as an “expert” in “ex-gay” therapy.

    As an expert in pseudonymous internet commentology, I wholeheartedly agree.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    There is no such thing as an “expert” in “ex-gay” therapy.

    Yes, there are. We tend to call them “really good liars.”

    …the ex-gay group Voice of the Voiceless, which lately has tried to raise the profile of “ex-gay pride” by holding secret events…

    Showing your pride only in secret? That doesn’t sound like pride to me, it sounds like the exact opposite of pride.

    On a more serious note, while I agree with the ruling here, a judge would have a hard time justifying in when the bigots start crying about “free speech” and “persecution.” He’d probably have to show a pre-existing pattern of decidedly non-expert statements (i.e., lies or ignorant and easily-refuted claims, repetition of already-debunked claims, etc.) made by so-called ex-gay “experts,” in order to prove their testimony can never be trusted as credible.

  • kantalope

    ” raise the profile of “ex-gay pride” by holding secret events ”

    We’re proud and we’re loud…but not that loud and don’t tell anyone.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @ Raging Bee

    I don’t know how hard the judge will have to work at that. There is a standard, called the Daubert Standard that addresses whether expert witnesses may testify or not. There’s an emphasis on the scientific method, which I’m sure that none of these “experts” have even a passing familiarity with.

    Addendum: It turns out that New Jersey uses an older standard, the Frye Standard which has been superseded by Daubert in all but a few jurisdictions. It still requires scientific evidence for an expert to be relevant.

    As far as the secret, ex-gay “pride event”: It’s all part of that Christian martyr complex. A reason to feel special. Besides, they can hold it in a small space and huddle together in their fear of their persecutors. There’s something comforting about having your companions close to you. Their warmth, their masculinity… Ahem.

  • eric

    The suit alleges that JONAH broke consumer fraud laws by promising results (a change in sexual orientation) it could not delivery [sic]…

    Well, they just need to call their therapy a health supplement or say its “for entertainment purposes only.” We let that sort of woo promise results it can’t deliver all the time. [/bitterness]

  • whheydt

    I would surmise (calling John Pieret!) that what the judge actually ruled is that these people cannot testify as “expert witnesses”, rather than ruling that they can’t testify at all. It would probably be useless to put one or more of them on the stand as ordinary witnesses, if only because the plaintiffs lawyer would have a field day playing kick-ball with the insides of their heads.

  • colnago80

    Re artk1 @ #7

    I’m not familiar with Daubert but under Frye, the judge is required to hold what is called a Frye hearing to determine whether the experts are really experts and that their proposed testimony is generally accepted science.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @colnago80

    It’s the same under Daubert. The judge holds a hearing to determine who can or cannot be admitted as an expert. Daubert was a refinement on Frye so the basic concepts are the same. I (and whheydt) suspect that that’s what happened in this case. The judge held a Frye hearing (since this is New Jersey and Frye is the standard) and ruled that “making shit up that conforms to our religious prejudices” wasn’t good science.

  • John Pieret

    whheydt:

    I would surmise … that what the judge actually ruled is that these people cannot testify as “expert witnesses”, rather than ruling that they can’t testify at all.

    That is correct. They can still testify as fact witnesses, if they have any relevant knowledge concerning what happened to the two plaintiffs who were “treated” by JONAH.

    The decision is here:

    http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/case/jonahopinion.pdf

  • John Pieret

    @ 10 & 11:

    Somewhat surprisingly, the judge did not conduct a hearing but stated:

    Although the court did not conduct a Rule 104 hearing, the standard remains the same and there was sufficient basis from review of the expert reports and deposition testimony to make an informed decision.

    This decision was on a motion in limine (seeking to limit what evidence can be introduced at trial) and the parties may have submitted it on “paper” without demanding a hearing.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    @John Pieret

    Thanks for that info. It sounds like the judge doesn’t have a lot of time or patience for nonsense. If the defendants couldn’t even make the most basic case on paper, a hearing would be a waste of time.

  • anat

    Can we list some more things people can’t be ‘expert witnesses’ about? From homeopathy to demons and gods?

  • Sastra

    There is no such thing as an “expert” in “ex-gay” therapy.

    No, I think there can be science-based experts in “ex-gay therapy” for the same reason there can be science-based experts in “astrology” or “creationism.” The history, the methods, the ideology, the major players, and so on can constitute a legitimate area of study. I’d consider Genie Scott an expert in the field of creationism. A psychiatrist might give expert testimony on the damage inflicted by phony therapies.

    These guys weren’t actually claiming to be experts in “ex-gay” therapy as we would and should understand the phrase. They were claiming to be expert ex-gay therapists. That’s just stupid.

  • hunter

    Flashback to Mark Regnerus’ testimony in one of the Michigan marriage cases: the judge flat-out called his testimony “not credible” — and his “study” got the same designation.

    I find it sort of funny that these quacks take themselves seriously enough that they’ll try to pass of their bullshit in front of a judge.

  • anubisprime

    These fucking egregious scams will eventually wither on the vine, just takes a little time but they must realize their goose is cooked, a bit like the creationists.

    But there are always a handful that are a little to thick to accept the inevitable after all jeebus he be a comin’…oh wait!!!

  • anubisprime

    hunter @ 17

    What is really creepy is Regnerus flogging the dead and rotting carcass of utter bollix to the RCC…they will buy and utilize anything that supports their delusional amorality.

    A bit like Benny was nearly minded to introduce ”intelligent design’ to Katolik’ dogma after his oppo Cardinal Schönborn sold him the pig in the poke.

    Benny apparently fired the Vatican chief astronomer for correcting his stupidity in public.

  • eric

    These guys weren’t actually claiming to be experts in “ex-gay” therapy as we would and should understand the phrase. They were claiming to be expert ex-gay therapists. That’s just stupid.

    I blame reality. It’s liberal bias is interfering with religious claims again. Damn you, reality!