Following California’s Lead, Lawmakers Introduce Bills Against ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy

Just two weeks ago, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first law in the nation banning anti-gay “reparative therapy” for minors.

Now, states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey may follow suit.

Reparative therapy, also known as conversion therapy or “ex-gay” therapy, claims to “cure” LGBT people and make them straight, but the practice is widely discredited and has been found to do more harm than good. Some of the biggest advocates for ex-gay therapy have recently changed their positions, including Robert Spitzer, who authored a study commonly cited to support conversion therapy, and the president of Exodus International, a Christian group that has existed largely to help gay people “turn straight.”

After Gov. Brown’s historic move for California, other states are clearly taking note. Pennsylvania State Rep. Babette Josephs of Philadelphia has introduced a bill that would prohibit mental health providers from giving minors conversion therapy. Also, in New Jersey, openly gay Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace has said he will introduce similar legislation.

“No reputable mainstream mental health association considers being gay, lesbian or bisexual a disease or mental illness. Yet, that is exactly the premise behind this kind of therapy – a wrong assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be ‘corrected,’” Josephs said, in a statement.

“As homosexuality is not a disorder, so attempts to ‘convert’ the sexual orientation of anyone, particularly a minor, threatens the individual’s short- and long-term health and well-being,” she said.

State Rep. Josephs has already introduced her bill, while Assemblyman Eustace’s could be introduced at any time. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see laws like this all over the country.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a recent college graduate working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • Evertonian

    I would have to admit that being gay is not wrong if the Christian God does not exist. If the universe came into existence by chance, and we are just highly evolved animals at the end of the day, then anything goes sexually. There are no borders. Even if society deems certain sexual acts “wrong” they are not ultimately “wrong”. Therefore, when you argue for LGBT rights, I don’t think you go far enough. If you want to be completely consistent, all forms of sexual expression are in: bestiality, incest etc etc. Question: Given your worldview, can anyone tell me it is wrong to have sex with my goat and marry him? Let’s say I’m not causing any harm to the goat. Is this “wrong”? How can anyone tell me this is wrong?

    • Pedro Lemos

      “If the universe came into existence by chance, and we are just highly evolved animals at the end of the day, then anything goes sexually.”

      Non sequitur.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

      My rule is: if it can legally own land, it can legally get married.

      I view the question of ethics as one of optimizing social stability. Incest, due to its promotion of dangerous recessive traits if continued over multiple generations, is unethical if there is reproduction, but if the couple agrees not to have kids, I have no qualm with them. However, such dangerous recessive traits are also found in small, mostly isolated communities such as the Amish. So if you are against incest, you must hate the Amish. And Cajuns. And you don’t want to get on the bad side of a Cajun, from what I hear.

      • amycas

         Of course with the genetics argument against incest, then you get into the realm of “well then shouldn’t we test every couple to make sure their kids won’t be genetically harmed by their coupling?”

        • Deven Kale

           Some state’s do test to ensure the couple aren’t too closely related. If they are, they deny their marriage license and inform the couple. Sometimes they really don’t know they’re related, but very rarely they do know and don’t care. I know that Oregon does this, but I don’t know for certain if any other states do.

          This doesn’t actually stop them from having sex and possibly getting pregnant, but the state won’t endorse such a union because of it’s proven detrimental affects on any children they may have. In this case, and for the same reason, disallowing the marriage is something I completely agree with.

          • amycas

            Testing to see if they are closely related is not what I meant. I meant, if we’re going to deny those unions because of genetics, then shouldn’t we test all couples to see if their children would likely have severe genetic defects, regardless of the couple’s familial relationship.

            • Deven Kale

              For the time being, a child having a severe genetic defect is still extremely rare. So for now, doing such testing for each couple that’s wanting to get married would be a pretty big waste of resources. If some time in the future these severe genetic defects get to be more statistically significant, say 10% or more (just a figure I pulled out of my ass), then it might be worth considering.

              Testing for close family relationships is cheap and easy anyway. If I remember right it’s only like $20 for the test. In contrast, checking for all possible combinations of severe defects is in the range of thousands of dollars.

    • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

      Societal acceptance and Biblical law are two completely different things.  Stoning disobedient children is seen as horrific and illegal by our modern standards, and we women don’t take the week off from work and hide in our bedrooms when we have our periods.  Homosexual behavior hasn’t been considered in any way deviant by medical professionals for nearly 40 years now.  This isn’t hard to grasp.  You’ve been told time and time again that atheism isn’t lockstep with nihilism, and morality clearly exists outside of Biblical standards, so please stop acting so ridiculously obtuse.

      And your goat can’t give informed consent.

    • Helanna

      Simple, the goat can’t consent. Lack of a no isn’t a yes. Unless you’re reading the Bible, maybe – isn’t there some part about putting a woman to death if she doesn’t scream loudly enough during her rape? 

      Before you bring it up, children can’t consent for the same reason they can’t vote, drink, or live on their own under a certain age – they’re not considered responsible or emotionally mature enough to have a full enough understanding to consent.
      That was easy. You’re being lazy today. Step it up, troll. 

      • Evertonian

        Everyone is using the “consent” card to say the sex with goat is wrong. However, this is subjective morality. Everyone in your village says it is wrong because the stupid goat can’t consent. But in my village, we don’t care about consent, therefore we think sex with goats is just fine. This is what is really happening: We all know that having sex with goats is wrong and shameful. We all know this because God exists and He has said it is wrong. If you guys were consistent, you would be forced to say anything goes sexually. However, in your inconsistency, you condemn sex with goats and hide behind the “consent” card as your justification for Conde ing it.

        Consistency=Absurdity
        Inconsistency= Borrowing

        • Evertoniancalvinist

          ***condemning

        • Pisk_A_Dausen

          Who are “we”? “All” people don’t agree, why isn’t God putting his morality into the heads of people who do in fact have sex with animals?

          • Evertonian

            They know it is wrong. That’s why they don’t tell their buddies at work about it the next day. The shame they feel fits in perfectly with the Christian story. Not so much with your story. So my point is that even the folks who do this know it’s wrong. And they know it’s wrong because the Christian God exists and said it is wrong. The Christian can make sense of this world we live in. You guys cannot.

            • smrnda

              Then why are so many people I know so frank and open about their sexual activities which clearly violate the standards of the Bible? Why do people have no shame in engaging in sex when not married, open relationships, or homosexual activities? What’s more, why do I not feel any revulsion, disgust or feelings of judgment towards them when they tell me what they do, even when it involves things I would personally not do myself?

              I mean, the Bible does not explicitly condemn slavery, but I consider it a horrible thing. What, did the Christian god forget to pre-program me to ‘know’ that it’s wrong?

              Or are you going to tell me that I ‘really know it’s wrong’ but am just denying it? Do you realize that if that’s what you say, then your claims are unfalsifiable?

            • Patterrssonn

              So that explains why goat sex was rampant among societies that didn’t have access to the christian God’s word. Anthropologists have always been puzzled by that.

              • nakedanthropologist

                Indeed – wild goat sex has remained an intellectual and archaeological puzzle from Boaz to present-day research.  As for myself, I ascribe to the theory that God is actually a goat, and therefore man is constantly trying to become “one” with god.  Its structural, and one can observe this strain of worshipful eroticism throughout various time periods and cultures.

                • amycas

                   Lol, you truly are the naked anthropologist.

            • Indorri

              Repeat the mantra.

        • RobMcCune

          Your wrong about the Christian view, shame as well as knowledge of right and wrong comes from magical fruit (Genesis 3) rather God saying it was wrong. Just because Christians have explanations doesn’t mean they’re any good.

        • Patterrssonn

          Not sure why you think that claiming an imaginary creature is the source of a moral code makes it any less subjective. Doesn’t help either when none of you can agree on what that moral code is.

        • Deven Kale

           You claim there is an absolute moral law. Tell me, what is that law? If there is such a thing as an absolute moral law, then you should be able to describe what it is.

          I don’t think you can, so how about this instead: Tell me, in your opinion, what is absolutely the worst act that could ever be committed, that there will never be any good reason for it, and there could never be any act which is worse? Keep it just to the act itself please, don’t go into another incoherent rant about it-  Just the act itself. If there is such a thing as an absolute moral law, you should be able to easily tell us what this is.

      • nakedanthropologist

        Oh, thank you – you said what I wanted to say after I was done laughing.

    • george

      So if your “works in mysterious ways” God commanded you to have goat sex, would you?

      • amycas

         obviously, that would be Satan in disguise ;-)

  • JasmynMoon

    You’re wrong because the goat can’t look at someone and say, “Yes. I have full understanding of this situation, and I completely consent.”
    Do you realize how irrational you sound? The fact that you don’t seem to understand the difference between consenting adults having sex and things like bestiality and incest reveals some scary inner workings in your mind.

    • Evertoniancalvinist

      Okay Jasmyn, now I want you to try and be consistent here: Given what you just said, if my little sister has “a full understanding of the situation, and she completely consents” can I have sex with her? It will not cause her harm and she will not get pregnant. She is also 19 years old. Is this wrong? Try to answer this question with being consistent with your previous answer.

      • Helanna

        I’m not Jasmyn, but hey, if you’re taking steps to prevent pregnancy, then for me it falls under two consenting adults. It disgusts me personally but that doesn’t mean I’m going to say you can’t do it.

        Actually, isn’t that legal anyway? Marriage isn’t, but is there also a law that says you can’t have sex with an adult family member? 

      • CanadianNihilist

         I’m not into incest as I’m not a fan of people making horrible mutant babies that will be a drain on society/ their life might be a living hell.
         However if you have a consenting legal adult sister and you’re not going to get her pregnant than I couldn’t care less about what you two do behind closed doors.

        I know other people disagree with me but my two cents is if it floats your boat and all involved parties are consenting adults then do whatever you want.

        I don’t judge you at all for wanting to fuck your sister Evertonian. I hope that one day you find a place where they also accept you.

      • Jasmyn

        I saw a BBC documentary on the subject of brothers and sisters who had fallen in love a few years ago. Honestly, my heart went out to them. They were consenting adults who had fallen in love just like the rest of us-it just happened to be with a sibling. They faced a great deal of social stigmas and had to keep their feelings a secret. I highly reccommend it. I don’t remember the name of it, sadly. I also never saw it shown again. I wouldn’t be surprised if it upset people since that is a controverisal subject.Anyway, to answer your question, if she is a fully consenting adult, and not mentally incapacitated in any way, far be it from me to dictate someone else’s sex life. I really don’t care what other people do behind closed doors. I enjoy the benefit of no one caring about my personal life, so it would be highly unfair to not extend that same benefit to others.So long as noone is being hurt (against their will, not in the consenting BDSM way), I don’t care who sleeps together or who gets married. I don’t care if it’s two men, two women, a man and a woman, or 14 men to one woman. Not my business.

      • Patterrssonn

        You mean like Adam and Eve?

        • RobMcCune

          Eve wasn’t Adam’s sister, she was more like his organ.

          • Patterrssonn

            Clone?

        • JohnnieCanuck

          It isn’t Adam and Eve that gets Christians all squirmy when the subject comes up. It’s who their children had sex with. Cain and Abel either had children by their sisters or their mother. That’s when the dissembling begins.

          Maybe there were other unnamed people available somewhere.
          It was okay because God gave permission.
          It was okay because their DNA had not yet deteriorated after the expulsion.
          It’s just a metaphor, don’t be so literal.
          It was before the Laws of Moses came into effect.
          We don’t talk about that, not in front of the children.
          Et cetera.

  • smrnda

    Laws and public policy ought to be built on utilitarian standards, rather than the specific dictates of particular religions, since the US government ought to be neutral in matters of religion.

    There is no utilitarian case against homosexuality in that nobody can tell me who is being wronged by it when 2 adults consent to have sex or enter into a relationship. The mental health profession ditched the notion of homosexuality as a mental illness long ago, and even among people who believe that it can be ‘treated’, the evidence is the treatments seem to cause more harm than anything else and are never successful. It’s within the scope of the law to protect minors from being forced to undergo unsound practices that may cause harm to them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    A nice gesture, but as I believe this blog has pointed out, mostly empty, since the Californians being regulated were by and large not the quacks promoting ex-gay therapy, anyway.

  • smrnda

    The reason why consent is the foundation of sexual ethics for many secular people is that it comes from making the foundation of society based on individual rights and personal autonomy (like the USA for example) with some degree of limitations based on making sure that one person does not infringe on the autonomy of others. It’s a pretty consistent way of looking at how to govern a society. None of us want our bodily autonomy violated, so we make it illegal to do so. We set ages of consent, admitting that it is kind of abritrary but we need to set some limit, like a noise ordinance.

    I actually do not think homosexuality is wrong, and I have never thought it was wrong nor seen any evidence that it causes harm or violates any rights that a person ought to have. My brain was not pre-programmed with the idea that ‘homosexuality is bad’ and because nobody tried to program that into me, I rejected it for the same reason that I don’t think a lot of things are wrong. Wrong = causing harm to someone without their consent. I think it’s pretty consistent.

    As for what the Christian god says are right and wrong, god tells Abraham to engage in a ritual child sacrifice. That’s pretty wrong. It seems like the alternative to ‘consent and human rights’ is ‘whatever god says goes, and god can contradict himself all the time’ – the usual divine commandment theory that apologists pull up.

  • SJH

    Dr. Spitzer tried retracting his study recently but the journal that published it refused didn’t they? Doesn’t this mean that his study still stands? You can’t just decide you don’t like the outcome ten years later and try and void the data. It is real data and unless the publishers agree that it should be retracted because it was bad science then isn’t it valid? What was his reasoning for retracting and why did the journal not accept that reasoning?

    • smrnda

       Spitzer has documented a number of flaws with his study. I’m not sure how often studies get retracted, but it’s a longstanding problem that many studies shown to be problematic are not retracted and then continue to be cited.

  • nakedanthropologist

    Excellent.


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