March 08, 2018
What kind of country refuses to give people the help they need? In some states, ours. When it comes to therapy, no topic is more controversial than whether counselors should be able to help patients who want to overcome their same-sex attractions. Until recently, there had never been -- in all of history -- a form of talk therapy that was outlawed because of what the client hoped to achieve. But unfortunately, that's all changed. And more states than ever are threatening to try.
In Maryland, FRC's own Mary Beth Waddell was one of just two witnesses trying to keep freedom alive in the world of counseling. The bill's proponents, who are doing everything they can to outlaw this form of therapy, harped on the supposed dangers of working through these issues with teenagers. That's ridiculous, since, as Peter Sprigg points out, even the liberal American Psychological Association recognizes that "there are people who perceive that they have benefited from" SOCE (or, sexual orientation change efforts). In other words, the LGBT lobby and other far-Left groups are only fighting this battle out of ideological bias – and the misguided (and unproven notion) that people are "born gay."
As a matter of fact, Peter points out in a great paper that explains this topic in depth, it's precisely because people are not born gay that patients have benefited from this kind of therapy. "There are many psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and therapists who have reported success in treating clients for unwanted same-sex attractions. Much of this research and clinical experience has been reported in the peer-reviewed scholarly literature for decades." Nicholas A. Cummings was chief psychologist for Kaiser Permanente for 20 years and served a term as president of the American Psychological Association. Cummings is not a social conservative who opposes homosexuality. He wrote in USA Today in 2013, "Gays and lesbians have the right to be affirmed in their homosexuality." But even he conceded that "contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality." During his years of practice, Cummings wrote, "Of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful."
Obviously, efforts like Maryland's are just another attempt to silence the truth that people can change, and that there is -- as many have found -- freedom from this destructive lifestyle. Mary Beth pointed out another important fact, which is that measures like SB 1028 pose another threat -- to the principles of the counseling profession and the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and free exercise. "The legal principle," she explained, "is that the state has no right or power to even inquire into -- let alone interfere with or punish -- the verbal communication that takes place within certain special relationships. Those include the relationship of attorney and client, of priest and confessor, or of doctor and patient -- as well as within the relationship of therapist and client."
During the question portion of her testimony, liberals brought up the issue of coercion. They're worried, she was told, about minors whose parents are forcing them into therapy they don't want. But, as Mary Beth explained, parents, children, and therapists would all play an important role in deciding that. After all, no decent counselor is going to subject someone to therapy they don't want.
One of the more powerful moments of the hearing was when a man who identified as a female spoke out in opposition. Although he hadn't gone through the therapy to reorient, he, more than anyone, understands the need for a safe place to talk openly about his feelings. Let's hope Maryland was listening. True compassion is giving people the help they need -- not trapping them in a life of struggle and pain.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.