Religious right to sue CA over “pray away the gay” ban

“I can’t cure you!”
(photo by Shutterstock)

Following up on John’s post about California banning the incredibly dangerous practice of reparative therapy (“Pray away the Gay”) for children presumed to be gay, it appears that NARTH, the National Association of Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (an anti-gay “cure” group), and the Liberty Counsel (the fundamentalist project of the Liberty University School of Law) will be challenging the law in court.

From MetroWeekly:

In a statement released today, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver announced that the group of social conservatives, which seeks to advance “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family,” would challenge the California law on the grounds that it imposes a “catch-22″ for licensed therapists.

“The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs,” Staver said in a statement. “A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions.”

The entire notion of reparative therapy — that you can pray away the gay — has been debunked repeatedly.  Perhaps most famously by the leader of the largest “ex-gay” group in the world, Alan Chambers of Exodus International:

Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network….

In a phone interview Thursday from Orlando, Fla., where Exodus has its headquarters, Mr. Chambers amplified on the views that have stirred so much controversy. He said that virtually every “ex-gay” he has ever met still harbors homosexual cravings, himself included. Mr. Chambers, who left the gay life to marry and have two children, said that gay Christians like himself faced a lifelong spiritual struggle to avoid sin and should not be afraid to admit it.

He said Exodus could no longer condone reparative therapy, which blames homosexuality on emotional scars in childhood and claims to reshape the psyche. And in a theological departure that has caused the sharpest reaction from conservative pastors, Mr. Chambers said he believed that those who persist in homosexual behavior could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven.

Only a few years ago, Mr. Chambers was featured in advertisements along with his wife, Leslie, saying, “Change is possible.” But now, he said in the interview, “Exodus needs to move beyond that slogan.”

And finally, NARTH spokesperson (and “ex-gay”) David Pickup (seriously) went on CNN today and got into it with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and Elizabeth Cohen. Kudos to both of these women for holding Pickup’s feet to the fire.


Born and raised in Maine, Nick Seaver moved to DC to study political communication in 2003. He began writing extensively on LGBT rights during the first ballot initiative in Maine that overturned marriage equality. He writes about a variety of issues, ranging from marriage to issues facing LGBT youth. Follow him on Twitter at @NDSeaver.

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