It was recently revealed by author Thomas Maier that the famous late 1970s Masters and Johnson study on the “conversion” of gays and lesbians into heterosexuals was likely faked – and no actual homosexuals were “cured” by their therapy.
When the clinic’s top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these “storybook” cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny—who had never seen any conversion cases himself—began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.
Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters’ conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn’t have a college degree and depended largely on her husband’s medical expertise.
Unable to let this more recent revelation get the last word, it appears that the conservative media has resorted to making up a story about the APA “suddenly” issuing a new statement on homosexuality that delivers “a knockout punch” to the theory that gay people are born that way.
For decades, the APA has not considered homosexuality a psychological disorder, while other professionals in the field consider it to be a “gender-identity” problem. But the new statement, which appears in a brochure called “Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” states the following:
“There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles….”
They claim victory here because apparently back in 1998, the APA brochure stated: “There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.”
What should be seen, by any thinking person without an agenda, is that the APA is merely following the science on this matter. The fact that there “is no consensus among scientists” on a biological “cause” for homosexuality doesn’t mean that it’s been disproved. It’s hardly a “knockout punch” to the idea that sexual orientation is in-born, it’s merely a notation that science continues to explore the possibility. So far “no findings have emerged” on biological issues, but research is ongoing and some may yet emerge – so conservatives shouldn’t get too cocky over this statement. But then, the religious right never lets nuance get in the way of a good literal reading.
What’s really interesting is that OneNewsNow and WorldNetDaily treat this as a major breaking news story and breathlessly report that this is some brand spanking new statement from the APA – which declared back in 1976 that homosexuality is not a mental illness. In fact, this is not a new statement. The brochure, on the APA Web site, was written in 2008.
This is not “news” but just another canard pulled from the bottom of a dwindling bag of tricks the religious right is using in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of gay rights victories in the past few months.
What’s also interesting is the end of the sentence that the news sites conveniently snipped: “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”
But, we don’t need to concern ourselves with what people “experience” about their sexual orientation. No, the conservatives must do all they can in their power to discredit any belief that gay and lesbian people are fine just the way they are and don’t need anyone to help them “change” into something they are not.
The “news” story is simply another reason for leaders of anti-gay organizations, like Peter LaBarbera at Americans for Truth About Homosexuality to get in their two cents about how gays and lesbians can pray away the gay:
“Change through Christ is possible — and it’s one of the most heartwarming aspects of the whole gay debate,” he shares. “Many men and women have come out of homosexuality, mostly through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact that these professional organizations will not study that, will not acknowledge that, shows how ‘in the tank’ they are for the homosexual movement.”
Perhaps the APA and others should now study these so-called “ex-gay” ministries in light of Maier’s finding that the entire basis for praying away the gay was fabricated from the beginning and that most gay and lesbian people feel they never had a choice in their sexual orientation. But again, facts can be such pesky things.
But, just for a minute, let’s go with LaBarbera and his friends down the path of “gays choose their sexual orientation.” If they do: so what? There are plenty of choices out there that people make and there are legal protections written into the law that says they can make that choice and others cannot discriminate against them because of that choice. I’m thinking of one choice in particular: religion.
In fact, the hate crimes bill, currently working its way through Congress, simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to a long list of categories that are already protected by the current hate crimes law. One of them is a choice people make: their religion. For conservatives to say they will be arrested for preaching against gays and lesbians if these other “choices” are added to the law is preposterous on its face. If the law could be used against what they call “thought crimes” why are we not charging anyone who speaks out against a religion with a hate crime? It’s the same logic. If conservative Christians really believed the law could be used in this manner, I imagine Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris would already have been drawn and quartered by now under the existing hate crimes law.
The point is this: rights are accorded to people who make a choice about their religion. There should be no reason that those rights should not also be accorded to those who make a choice about their sexual orientation. The reason hate crime laws and other laws include religion as a protected class is because religious people have been discriminated against, or violently attacked, because of their choice of religion. Gays and lesbians, too, are facing discrimination, and often violent attack, for their sexual orientation, and if it is a choice, it should be respected, just as a person’s religion is respected.
If, however, gays and lesbians have not made a choice, and one day research does show a genetic link for homosexuality – gays and lesbians should be treated as a minority class like minority races and granted rights accordingly.
Either way – whether it’s chosen or in-born – homosexuality should be a protected class not because of any special rights for a select group – but because that group has been singled out for special discrimination in the past. Being included as a protected class and granted equal rights in all areas of life, like marriage, is simply the way the law cures patterns of historical discrimination. We’ve done it for religion – which is clearly a choice. It’s time to do it for sexual orientation, whether it’s a choice or not.