The folks at Liberty University and the equally toxic Liberty Counsel believe in freedom of religion - as long as it is defined as they and their followers being allowed to force others to adhere to the Christofascists' religious beliefs. And this sick version of religious freedom includes parents being allowed to force their minor children into harmful and dangerous "ex-gay" a/k/a reparative therapy programs and "ministries." Hence the hysteria in the Christian Taliban quarters over California's new law that bans therapists and snake oil merchants form subjecting anyone under 18 to this bogus, witch doctor like therapy. Leading the charge in the challenge to the law is Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel - the same man who may been part of a criminal conspiracy and have helped Lisa Miller kidnap her daughter and flee America - who realizes that if the ban in California spreads, it will be a major blow to the Christofascists propaganda that being gay is a "choice" and that gays can "change." As one who tried to "change" for 37 years I know how damaging these attempts to change can be. Forcing a minor into such programs is nothing less than a form of child abuse and, frankly, parents who do this to their children ought to be prosecuted for abuse in my opinion. A piece in Huffington Post looks at the legal battle in California. Here are some excerpts:
Jerry Spencer's counselor once placed bags of ice on his hands while showing him photos of men holding hands. Chaim Levin's "life coach" told him to slowly undress in front of a mirror while the coach stood several feet away and watched. James Guay's licensed therapist took a more conventional approach. He told Guay to try to fantasize about having sex with women.
All of these therapists and counselors practice something that goes by the name of "reparative therapy" or "conversion therapy." By any name, the idea behind it is the same: therapy can make gay people straight. It has been practiced in some form since the rise of therapy in the U.S. more than a half-century ago, but a series of high-profile attempts to curtail it have recently thrust it into the spotlight.
On Friday in California, a lawyer representing therapists and families who want to continue the practice went to court in the hope of blocking a new state law signed in September by Gov. Jerry Brown (D). The law, which bans licensed therapists from engaging in the practice with minors, is the first of its kind in the U.S., and activists celebrated it as a milestone in the gay-rights movement.
A ruling is expected next week. If the law survives these two legal challenges, it will go into effect at the start of 2013.
In a press release a day before the hearing, Liberty Counsel said it would argue that that law is an "astounding violation of the right to free speech and religious liberty."
Shannon Minter, legal director for The National Center for Lesbian Rights, or NCLR, which is defending a gay-rights group that has filed a motion to intervene to defend the law, said he was pleased with the hearing. "It went extremely well," he said. Minter said he has been fighting this practice for 20 years, but the battleground has changed in the last decade, as one by one the entire mainstream medical establishment, from the American Psychiatric Association to the American Psychological Association, renounced it. The World Health Organization, for example, has released a statement saying that such methods "lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being" of patients.
For both sides, the case represents another potential turning point for the practice nationwide. Since the California law entered the books, similar legislation has been proposed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of four former patients and two of their mothers against a conversion therapy group called Jews Offering New Alternatives For Healing, or JONAH, alleging that this organization, which does not employ licensed counselors, violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming that counseling services could cure clients of being gay. Also this week, Rep. Jackie Spier (D-Calif.), introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution in Congress, the first federal action aimed at ending conversation therapy.
However these lawsuits and legislative efforts turn out, gay-rights advocates say that by merely shining a light on conversion therapy, they're helping to end it. Christine Sun, the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said, "Our campaign was not just focused on vindicating the rights of conversion therapy survivors, but to destroy the very concept that a person could change from gay to straight."
"When people hear about the absurd treatment that goes on," Sun added, "that does a lot to change people's minds."
One thing the defenders of reparative therapy don't mention is that these "therapists" make a lucrative living preying on tormented gays and/or their parents who in many cases are more worried about their own embarrassment at having a gay child than they are about their child's welfare. In my view, the most tawdry whore has more integrity than Matt Staver and his fellow supporters of this quackery.