MercatorNet Posts Op-Ed Critical of Reparative Therapy

Remarkably, Mercator Net posted an article critical of reparative therapy earlier this month. The piece by Melinda Selmys has generated many comments at MercatorNet and for good reason. The article is well written and provides Selmys opinion on the California law banning reparative therapy for minors.

Selmys writes:

That said, it is not impossible for a homosexual to have a happy marriage with an opposite-sex spouse. My own experience speaks to that: I am same-sex attracted, but have chosen heterosexual marriage for a combination of religious and personal reasons. I would not say, however, that I have achieved orientation change. I am not attracted to men, I am in love with a man. This is typical of the real experience of “ex-gays”: usually what changes is not the underlying pattern of attraction but rather the sort of relationship that a person chooses to pursue.

Well said.

She appears to favor the California law which bans reparative therapy for minors, saying

Adults who have chosen to undergo therapy are in a position to change therapists or to abandon treatment if they find that the therapy does more harm than good. Minors who are forced into therapy by adult authority figures do not have this option. Even if young people are theoretically seeking treatment under their own power, many feel intense pressure to overcome homosexual desires in order to please their parents, and some fear punishment or recrimination if they fail. Unscrupulous therapists often market their services primarily to parents and guardians, preying on the hopes and fears of those who have the ability to place adolescents in treatment.

Moreover, conscientious therapists openly state that conversion therapy does not have any real chance of working unless it is freely chosen by the client. Teenage dependents are not in a position to make a free choice of this kind.

I have seen a fair number of SSA teens over the years and generally I find that their concern is parental rejection and/or abandonment. They are not really in a position to question parental wishes. On the other hand, I have met some who did not want to engage in sexual behavior and expressed gratitude for support to avoid that.

Currently, the Pacific Justice Institute is soliciting reparative therapists for minor clients to join the lawsuit against the state of California. It seems inevitable that such requests will put even more pressure on a minor who may already be going along with parental wishes in order to keep peace.

While it is obvious that NARTH is under fire, an article like this on the MercatorNet website has to be considered a real setback.

Check out Melinda Selmys blog.

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  • StraightGrandmother

    Hopefully you noticed “Grashopper” contributed to the topic. 🙂

  • Teresa

    Glad to see Melinda’s article is opening up a conversation here on your blog, Warren.

    StraightGrandmother, I continue to be amazed at your dedication to sexual orientation research, and your search for truth in this swampy mess.

    Hopefully, Melinda joins this conversation; and, tells us a bit more of her mixed orientation marriage (MOM); and, her progression through her same sex attractions.

    One big question for Melinda, if she has the time and the inclination to respond: did you at one time think your same sex attractions had been ‘cured’, and that you were no longer going to be troubled by them?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, and it is my pleasure to again to see you commenting. I saw your comment on Family Scholars as well, I couldn’t say “hi” there as I have been banned from that website. And unjustifiably banned I should add.

    I sense from you Teresa in reading your various comments, a movement back toward your Catholicism and an embrace of it. More power to you Teresa, it is a free country and you have the Liberty rights to chart your own course. That being said, I was deeply disappointed to see you agreeing with Maggie Gallagher that your opinion that homosexuality is disordered and thus sexual minorities should not have the right to a civil marriage. Just as you have the Liberty rights to chart your own course in life, others who do not hold to your views have civil rights also, and the State has no business privileging one group of couples, while denying the same rights to another group of couples.

    I do not believe homosexuality to be “disordered” all they are is s sexual minority, there are not many of them is all. They have been among us from time immortal.

    I spent Christmas Eve day at the Martin Luther King National Memorial in Atlanta. It really effected me Teresa, and made me more determined than ever to continue to seek out the truth about homosexuality. I was discrete but I was crying at the Memorial. I can taste discrimination against people for no damned good reason. I saw it at the MLK Memorial, the hatred and State sanctioned oppression against black people, I am determined to do what I can to stop it against sexual minorities. The time is now, we must seize this moment and push for an end to State sponsored discrimination against sexual minorities. You have the right to live your life according to your values, everyone, especially those who do NOT share your values, deserves the same right. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

    I do strive to continue to learn, but I also work hard to expose the lies. That Fitzgibbons who posts on Mercatornet IS a big liar. He is. His intimidation of parents makes me literally sick to my stomach. He is a big anti gay bully and needs to be exposed as such. He is part of the problem, he is not part of the solution.

    Did you read on Truth Wins Out how another big ex-gay leader, was it Johnathan Poulk (?) yeah, he didn’t stay straight either. And he was on the cover of Newsweek as a “success” story. That is why I appreciated Melinda’s article and comments because she seems to me to be telling the truth and there really aren’t to many people in this SOCE field who claim to have found the miracle “cure” for homosexuality who do tell the truth. When I am done with this lengthy comment I’ll go read her blog. I am sure I have more to learn on this subject.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I am in moderation Warren, maybe my comment is to long.

  • Teresa

    Thanks, StraightGrandmother (SGM) for your comment. You do realize SGM that I am a woman with same sex attractions; so, yes, I have a dog in the stake on this issue.

    Depending on the day, I may or may not consider being gay ‘disordered’. However, for me and me only, I want my behavior to align with my faith belief, which would be celibacy. That’s why I’m really interested in SITF.

    Dr. Fitzgibbons, in my opinion, has some sort of obsession concerning homosexuals. It would behoove him to step away from this arena for the sake of everyone involved.

    I’ve written a couple of comments on the Family Scholars Blog. Do you comment on that site, as well, SGM?

    BTW, SGM, I am very supportive of Civil Unions for us gays; but, not Marriage. Take a look at the site Mormons and Gays which pretty much sums up where I’m at … right now. Much better than the Catholic Church in regards to the ‘disorder’ thingy. They do not see being gay as an illness or disease.

    Last note, SGM. I think most of us tend to grow and change on many issues; and, what we might think today may well change tomorrow. I try to remain open-minded to more information; and, certainly like to exchange views with others.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, yes I remember you are a woman with same sex attractions, I’ll use that term, same sex attracted, because I want to be respectful of you and that is the term you used.

    As a matter of fact I was floored when the Mormons came out with their new video and website, I watched the video first day it came “out” (ha-ha, pun intended). If I recall correctly in the video the head Mormon guy even said something about loving and accepting you gay family members even when they stumble, and I’m pretty sure that was the exact word used, “stumble”.

    This is progress. Now if they will stick to pastorally caring for their flock, and quit trying to force their religious views on others via our civil laws I will be a happy camper. I am at peace with my beliefs, one day soon the religions of the world will realize how wrong they have been. It is going to come sooner than we all think is possible. You are just as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine, but the most important to me is to live in a country that has room for everybody.

  • Ann

    Thank you Dr. Throckmorton for posting this article and for highlighting what I think is often missed by individuals who think that an individual with same sex attractions cannot be in love with an individual of the opposite sex. As the article states, one does not have to be attracted to men to fall in love with one man. Neither does a man have to be attracted to women to be in love with one woman. It may not be an every day occurance, or it may, however, it does happen and it should be acknowledged as I appreciated your comment of “well said”. Thank you again.

  • Ann


    In some ways your advocacy is admirable. What is the actual knowledge you have regarding same sex attractions/orientation that fortifies you to opine and advocate with such certainty?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Ann as my forum name indicates I am straight, or maybe I should say heterosexual. Still married to my heterosexual “old man” close to 40 years. I follow gay blogs, right wing blogs and of course Warren and I also follow Yarhouse. My knowledge comes from reading, and especially reading research, I read on both sides of the moral issue. Additionally I follow all, we’ll most all of the Court Cases that are claiming equal civil rights for sexual minorities. Between what I have learned from reading Court briefs, Court decisions, and research I consider myself fairly well informed.

    I first came to Warren’s blog to get accurate scientific information if sexual minorities can change their sexual orientation. Before I started becomming informed initially because I started following the Court Cases, it never occurred to me that anyone would want to try changing their sexual orientation. The ability of people to change their sexual orientation has legal implications, so I started investigating if this was possible or not. I am honestly surprised what a huge discussion this is.

    By reading a lot of comments I have come to the conclusion that some sexual minorities can fall in love with straight people and marry in a Mixed Orientation Marriage. I have come to believe that statistically at least at a minimum 80% of these marriages do not last a lifetime and are quite traumatic for the straight spouse when the marriage ends. What I have read is typically they last for a decade or two, but then the sexual minority meets someone of their same gender that they simply cannot resist and they go with that person and end the marriage leaving a lot of middle aged people alone and single. And in the far far majority of the MOMs, the sexual minority cheats on their spouse. While I will agree that a very very few of these MOMs make it, “till death do us part” I do believe them to be a very very slim minority. The stories on the Straight Spouse network (which I found by reading Yarhouse’ research) literally make me cry. I would not wish the pain that the Straight Spouses go through on my worst enemy.

    When people advocate for MOMs I often think back to comments I have read on gay blogs, (written by a gay man) “Would you want your daughter to marry me?” and I honestly have to answer, “No!” I would not want my children to marry into a MOM, I just wouldn’t. It is better for everybody if gays marry gays and straights marry straights. In my opinion, gay people do not have to change, it is we heterosexuals who have to change. We have to stop looking down our noses at them and accept that they are normal. I reject all Bible verses that stgmitize them. We know more in 2013 than was known in the first century, also the sun does not go into a little house at night.

  • Ann

    On the other hand, I have met some who did not want to engage in sexual behavior and expressed gratitude for support to avoid that.

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    When others, including therapists have expressed similar comments, it has been met with mixed responses. One theory says the client has a clear self determination as to what they value and how they want to live and the therapist is helping them reason it through and support it. Another theory would say the client is under societal pressure to change orientation and the therapist is causing him/her grave harm if they continue therapy, ie; SIT. Do you think there will come a time when there will be a clear distinction between the two?

  • Ann


    Being a straight grandmother who has been married for close to 40 years is a nice position to be in – congratulations.

    Ok, so the knowledge you have regarding the many variances and dimensions of same sex attractions/orientation comes from different blogs that offer different opinions, thoughts, hypothesis, etc., and from those varying comments, you have formed your personal opinion – is that right?

  • Teresa


    Thank you for being so kind as to use the same terminology that I used to identify myself. As with you, I try to use terminology that the person I’m talking with has used … without judgment, without comment. So, thanks, again.

    I’m going to stretch you on this question, SGM. If you were told you were carrying a gay child (assuming science gets there) what would you do … abort, carry the child to term and keep it, carry the child to term and give it up for adoption?

    I think this is a question where the rubber meets the road, so-to-speak. As difficult as it’s been for some persons to accept homosexuals … and, as some persons have truly embraced us … what would the world look like if parents actually knew that their expectant child was going to be gay.

  • Melinda Selmys

    Hi all! Thanks, Warren. I’ve found your work really helpful; you have the statistics and insider information to prove the things that I merely suspected. When my own “orientation change” narrative definitively hit the ground I also found that the information that you provided helped me to understand that my experience wasn’t aberrant, and that there were ways forward for people in my position.

    Teresa, yes there was a time when I thought of myself as having undergone a complete change of orientation. I don’t know if I would have used the word “cured,” simply because I didn’t think of it in a medicalized way. I never had therapy or anything, I just fell in love with someone of the opposite sex. My first work on homosexuality (a series of articles for the National Catholic Register) was basically an orientation change testimonial, and actually quoted NARTH tropes as though they were established fact. I was naive, I found something that looked like science and that supported my moral and political beliefs, so I assumed that it was true. I’ve been trying to be more careful about that ever since.

    I’m currently working on a presentation on Mixed Orientation Marriages, so that’s probably going to be a topic of discussion on my blog over the next couple of months. There’s really too much to say for a com-box 🙂

  • Teresa

    Hi Melinda,

    Glad you joined the conversation here. As SGM has pointed out, you may want to take a look at Straight Spouse Network.

    Although the stories on there often involve not knowing one of the spouses is gay until later in marriage, there’s still a lot of other helpful information on that site.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, I can’t think of any instance of having an abortion. The only thing I can think of is if my child was grossly disabled and was certain to die within a few hours of birth. Maybe then I would consider it. I once worked with a woman who had an abortion and she seemed to me to be fairly far along as she was showing quite a bit, she had an abortion because the baby had no brain. I think a abortion is a deeply personal private issue between a woman, the man who impregnater her and her doctor. What is right in my conscious may not be right for others.

    I would never, ever, ever under any circumstance give up on my children, much less give them to another family. I understand children who are incorrigible, real problem children, children with mental health problems, but no matter what a mother does not ever abandon her children. Well maybe I should walk that back, something I just thought of. IF the mother herself is a child or very very young adult with no support system, maybe in some cases (not all cases) she is showing true love to her child by giving the child to another family who can better support and raise the child as their own.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Melinda, I do not fault you for previously claiming you went from lesbian to straight. I wish Michael Busse would comment here as he explained it very well. He was one of the originators, creators of Exodus, he explained it that they wished it to be true and he kept silent not wanting to hurt the others by admitting he was exaggerating his opposit sex attractions. In other words he did not want to be a discouragement so he kept mum. I think this is probably the case for most people especially back in the early years.

    The Internet has been a game changer, now you can communicate with others with similar interests and if you wish, do so anonymously. I do think anonymity can lead to more honesty. OTOH, it is the perfect medium for frauds and charletons with agendas.

    If Michael Bussee stops by he can explain it better. I think if you never were straight you can lead yourself to believe, “this must be what it is like, so I guess I am straight then” Only my guess as I can not directly relate, I am dependent on others explaining it to me.

  • Zoe Brain


    It is better for everybody if gays marry gays and straights marry straights.

    It can be a problem though if the straights who marry straights are of the same sex.

    I suppose our marriage is what is called in Computer Science a “boundary case”. Something out of the ordinary that tests the limits.

    We would both like to change our sexual orientation so we’d be attracted to each other, but on the other hand, it’s not that big a deal. Celibacy isn’t a burden to either of us.

    Would I like to be taken in the arms of a big, hunky guy who’d ravish me? Yes. (I go for the footballer type rather than the adonis).

    Except he wouldn’t be the person I’m in love with – she’s female, and I’m sorry but second-place won’t do. It’s her or no-one. Since we’re both straight, that means no-one.

    By an amazing and unlikely set of circumstances, we were able to have a child together. That, and love, to us is far more important than sex. Though it would be nice to have that too, it’s the least of the three.

    It’s our 31st anniversary soon – 7 years after the change.

  • Zoe Brain


    If you were told you were carrying a gay child (assuming science gets there) what would you do … abort, carry the child to term and keep it, carry the child to term and give it up for adoption?

    While carrying my child was never possible… even in my deepest, most homophobic past I would never, ever for one moment have considered abortion. Adoption perhaps, if I wasn’t worthy to be a parent, but that would have broken my heart.

    Not that a decision to abort or not was mine to make, as it wouldn’t be me who was pregnant (darnit!!!).

    I hope my son is straight – gays have a hard road to hoe, and it lessens the chance of grandchildren. But I’d much, much rather he be married to a good man than a girl who was even slightly less good for him.

    If society was more sane and kindly, if the legal system was better set up to recognise children not conceived through the usual way (as my son wasn’t – I only looked mostly male even before the change, didn’t have all the bits), I honestly wouldn’t care if he fell in love with a man, a woman, or a martian. as long as they were worthy of him, and he of them.

    I’d be more concerned about how he would explain to his chosen mate that his biological parents are both female. One of the usual kind, the other with a seriously Intersex endocrine system.

    It’s not about my feelings or welfare, but his. I can’t understand any mother who could feel differently about their child.

    OK, so I’m his biological father, but I’m still a female parent.

  • Zoe Brain

    On the MercatorNet site, Daniel Mattson wrote:

    Being made in the image of God, in the “union of body and soul,” both our bodies and souls reveal the truth about your person. Your body reveals what your God given orientation is…

    Standard Catholic “Theology of the Body” dogma, very fashionable in the last 40 years.

    Those who are Intersex pose a conundrum, though with the right amount of evasion and handwaving, this can be minimised so it’s not too obvious.

    Those with 5ARD, 17BHSD or other situations involving an apparent Sex Change – and by this philosophy, appearances are everything – blow it completely out of the water, just as the Galilean moons exploded another popular dogma “many moons ago”.

    One problem. To quote Dr Who (again):

    “You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.”

    As one of those facts, I can attest to the truth of this.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Zoe, it is always so nice when you stop by and comment. 31 years together, that’s nice real nice. Warren spent a good chunk of time on his David Barton work which needed to be done and REALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE. But I have missed these types of articles and the high quality commenters here who provided me a sound education on this topic. I came to this website knowing absolutly nothing about sexual orientation change efforts. It is nice to see you around, and me as well I suppose, I have been mostly absent during the David Barton articles. Anyway it is nice to see you and many of the others commenting.

  • Mary

    I would very much like to read our thoughts and comments about SOCE, Sexual orientation, MOM, etc…etc… in the coming years. Seems like there has been a slow shift that has finally opened up and made room for people to really discover what their sexuality means to them. I find that over the years I have changed my thinking on this many times. I wonder where we will all be in ten years and how our responses to the same questions may differ.

    I think we are finally getting to the point in our social-ness to allow people to have very different understandings and definitions for themselves that do not have to match anyone elses.

    I would like to see therapy move in this direction, too.

  • Mary


    Have you read any of Stephanie Coontz’s books? I think you would enjoy some of the ideas on family, finances, politics etc….