Throughout the life of this blog I have consistently and vigorously condemned so-called gay "conversion therapy" and those who support it and work to continue the myth that gays can "change" if they want to. I myself was never subjected to a formal conversion therapy regime which involves psychological - and sometimes physical - abuse. I did however, fall for Catholicism's lie that one can "pray away the gay" and I know the self-hatred and suicidal thoughts (and actions) that failure to change can bring about. I've also known many who were subjected to these fraudulent therapies - usually against their will - who suffered greatly and still bear psychological scars to this day and none of them successfully "changed" their sexual orientation. The practice needs to be banned nationwide. Now, the candidacy of Pete Buttigieg has brought conversion therapy and the vicious (but financially and politically lucrative) anti-gay agenda of evangelicals to the forefront, embodied in the person of Mike Pence (and his wife) who make little effort to hide their animus towards LGBT Americans. A piece in the Washington Post looks at Pence's anti-gay actions over the years and his failure to ever condemn conversion therapy and its advocates who are among his strongest political allies. Here are article highlights:
It’s a Hoosier rumble! Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has been calling out Vice President Pence for what he views as animus against gay rights. Buttigieg came out as gay when Pence was still governor of Indiana, after the two had tangled over Pence’s signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The law was signed in March 2015, and Buttigieg came out in June of that year.Some advocates of the RFRA expressly said that it would allow businesses to refuse to support same-sex marriages, something Pence denied at the time, saying it only provided a mechanism for plaintiffs to challenge government actions or activities that threaten their beliefs.
[I]n response to the outcry over the law, Indiana lawmakers amended it to clarify that it did not authorize discrimination against gays. Then Pence came under attack from conservatives for caving.
Buttigieg’s attacks have revived one of the most persistent complaints about Pence’s attitude toward gays — that he supposedly backed funding for conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE). CNN, for instance, said Pence “signaled support” for such funding in its report on Buttigieg’s speech to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
An American Psychological Association task force in 2009 extensively analyzed peer-reviewed literature and concluded that such methods were unlikely to be successful and could harm patients; 16 states and the District of Columbia have acted to ban such therapy.
Buttigieg’s staff insists that he’s not trying to raise the issue, saying his remarks on Pence are tied to the dispute over the RFRA. . . . . “I don’t know what he believes about conversion therapy because he has never given a straight one.” So what has Pence said?
There is little dispute that Pence has long been a skeptic of laws that seek to expand gay rights. He opposed same-sex marriage and supported a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He opposed a law that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace. He opposed the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy that prohibited soldiers from openly identifying as gay.
But the claim of supporting conversion therapy does not come from anything Pence ever said. Instead, it stems from an old campaign website that can only be found on the Wayback Machine. Nineteen years ago, when running for Congress, the Pence campaign website offered a “guide to renewing the American Dream.” . . . . In the section titled “Strengthening the American Family,” there are three items regarding gay rights:
Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.
Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s as a "discreet and insular minority" entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
As far as we can tell, references to Pence supporting conversion therapy began in 2015, after the fracas over RFRA, when they were circulated by the Indiana Democratic Party. News releases claimed Pence supported an “off-the-cuff endorsement for ex-gay conversion therapy,” without explaining that the language came from a campaign website.
We can find no evidence that Pence ever expressed support for conversion therapy. But neither can we find evidence that he has rejected it in his own words, as opposed to a spokesman. He has spoken at the Value Voters Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council, which still advocates SOCE techniques and argues the APA study actually supports use of such practices. Micah Clark, who serves as executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana and opposes efforts to ban SOCE, stood behind Pence when he signed the RFRA.
Pence could certainly settle this conundrum if he has rejected such therapies in his own words, rather than through a spokesman. Then there would no longer be any question.
Do not hold your breath waiting for Pence to condemn the practice and the harm it does to so many. He remains the political whore of all the hate groups that continue to advocate for the false therapy and who push the GOP to retain, if not ramp up, its anti-LGBT agenda. Meanwhile, the Trump/Pence regime is waging a relentless war on LGBT Americans, especially those who are transgender.