Religious Right Politics and the Ex-Gay Movement Get Back Together in Texas

After a period of relative quiet, the religious right and the ex-gay movement have picked out curtains again in Texas. As has been widely reported, the Texas GOP approved a phrase in their platform last weekend defending reparative therapy. The proposed platform language on homosexuality was:

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.

According to Focus on the Family, the reparative therapy plank language was softened slightly to:

We recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.  No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”

Behind this political proposition is a past commenter here on the blog: Jeremy Schwab. Apparently, he has recently gone by Jeremy Joel and sometimes doesn’t use his last name but according to several reports and his own blog, Schwab persuaded Cathie Adams of the Texas Eagle Forum to include the language in the platform.  Several reports said he received therapy from Joseph Nicolosi. In his comments here, he said he received therapy from Nicolosi’s son, Joseph Jr. Also, he defended Journey into Manhood, the International Healing Foundation and NARTH. He now has his own organization, Joel 2:25 International. His story now sounds a little different than his story then.

I have been at this awhile now and this script looks familiar. A young believer with a lot of energy aligns with his mentor and defends his mentor’s approach in a hostile environment.

Probably a lot of people thought the ex-gay movement had gone away with the collapse of Exodus. However, as long as Journey into Manhood, and NARTH are around, there will be fertile ground for such things. Unfortunately, the demise of the political connection between the religious right and ex-gay approaches might have been hastened if not for the movement to ban reparative therapy in the states for minors. This approach has galvanized opposition and has given the religious right a reason to hook up again with the ex-gay movement.  The religious right groups will support holding therapy, and all kinds of silliness if it means engaging the culture war.

Thus, I am still ambivalent about the movement to ban sexual orientation change efforts. I do not believe SOCE work to change orientation, and I certainly don’t think any political party should make ridiculous statements in support (such as the Texas GOP has done). However, I think public education was working with fewer and fewer people holding any confidence in the approach.  Now, if political conservatism will again be defined as what you think about gay change, we will be going backwards.

I suppose we are in for a return of ex-gay politics with a new cast of characters datalessly shouting that change is possible.


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