Science, and Gays, Be Damned

For years, the ex-gay industry has been quoting Dr. Robert Spitzer’s 2001 study that claimed people with same-sex attraction who were “highly motivated” could successfully change from gay to straight. For example, the study is quoted extensively in the treatment guidelines for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH.

In a surprising turn, Dr. Spitzer, in a new interview with Gabriel Arana in The American Prospect, repudiates his own study.

“In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct. The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more,” Spitzer told Arana.

Activists like Wayne Besen with Truth Wins Out celebrated the retraction saying, “Spitzer just kicked out the final leg from the stool on which the proponents of ‘ex-gay’ therapy based their already shaky claims of success.”

The ex-gay industry (quite understandably) has a love-hate relationship with Spitzer already. It was at his urging that the American Psychological Association first reconsidered its classification of homosexuality as mental disorder back in 1973. He redeemed himself with his later study, however, giving ex-gay believers the scientific ammunition they needed to continue their efforts.

I suspect the reaction to this retraction will be much like the reaction to the APA move: the vote was rigged, the gays bullied him into it and he was just tired of the criticism so he gave in.

In short, it won’t matter. Besen believes the “integrity” of these outfits will be tested by the retraction, but they’ve only ever had a passing relationship with integrity. The fact is, these “ministries” don’t need Spitzer and his studies to confuse and abuse gay and lesbian people when they have people like Marcus Bachmann in the mix.

A new hidden camera visit to Bachmann and Associates reveals they are still using “pray away the gay” reparative therapy to ensnare and shame gay and lesbian people into seeking to “change” their sexual orientation.

Last year, when Bachmann’s wife Michele was running for the GOP presidential nomination, he denied that his practice was using reparative therapy—or the idea that you can “pray away the gay.” But, using a pen camera, Kristina Lapinski visited Bachmann’s office earlier this month. She told the counselor she was struggling with lesbianism and was engaged to be married to a man. The counselor made her read passages from the Bible and encouraged to enter into marriage even though she expressed lesbian “desires.”

She asked me if I could “pray for a miracle to happen and wake up in the morning and have it be true, what would I wish for?” 

I said “money, success, a happy loving environment with friends and family.”

She was clearly implying that my miracle would be the getting rid of my “desire” which she referred to as “same sex attraction.”

Any shred of “integrity” goes right out the window with the rest of the counseling session. The counselor told Lapinski she should go ahead and marry her fiance and that love could grow later. She even seemed to push Lapinski into premarital sex after Lapinski told her she had not slept with her fiance because she wasn’t sexually attracted to him. “How can you know how it will be until you try?” the counselor asked.

The session ended with the counselor praying over her, imploring God to take away her homosexual desires.

Lapinski was shaken by the experience, knowing how powerfully confusing and shaming the experience would have been for someone who was really struggling to accept their sexual orientation.

Her footage will be released as part of a new film called Gay U.S.A. the Movie, but her account proves that this psychologically destructive “therapy” is still in use by Bachmann, despite his denials. That fact alone means that Spitzer’s repudiation of his study will not slow the industry in the least. They don’t need Spitzer and his science. The threat of eternal damnation is really all they’ve ever needed to inflict misery and make money.