Curing Homophobia is the Real Problem

Sixty years ago, the California legislature passed a law tasking the state’s Department of Mental Hygiene to “conduct and cause to be conducted scientific research into the causes and cures of sexual deviation, including deviations conducive to sex crimes against children, and the causes and cures of homosexuality, and methods of identifying potential sex offenders.”

Now, one state legislator has vowed to get the law repealed because the section on homosexuality was obviously “shoe horned” into a law that had its origins in a sexual assault case that had nothing to do with homosexuality. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, state legislator Bonnie Lowenthal said the law was based on the case of six-year-old Linda Joyce Glucoft, who was raped and murdered in 1949 by the grandfather of a friend. Even though the admitted killer was not a homosexual, Lowenthal writes that homosexuality got swept up in the law:

In 1950, homosexuality remained, officially, a mental disorder. So when the Legislature promised funding for a study into the causes and cures of sexual deviance, it was, tragically, natural to add homosexuality to the list.

Lowenthal’s bill has made it out of committee, but, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, several assemblymen abstained, “including Danny Gilmore, R-Hanford (Kings County) and Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge (Los Angeles County). Portantino expressed concern that the parts dealing with sex offenders would be stricken by the proposed law.”

There have been no reports that the anyone opposed repeal of the law on religious grounds, but such objections are always just below the surface, since many of the organizations that advocate finding a “cause” and a subsequent “cure” are overtly religious in their approaches — seeking to help people “pray away the gay.” Such religious-based programs have, over the years, proven to harm people who seek their help.  Even more damning is that the top defenders of such programs are “professional ex-gays” whose livelihoods depend on them sticking to the program at all costs.

One of those “professional ex-gays,” Richard Cohen, was inexplicably called on to be the “other side” of this issue on CNN in the past few days. The segment begins with anchor Kyra Phillips posing the question of whether homosexuality is “problem in need of a cure” and moves into the interview with Cohen and Lowenthal.

In the interview, Cohen argues for keeping the law. He conflates molestation and homosexuality and touts how he has helped those with “unwanted homosexuality” to go straight. Cohen also talks about a new “fact sheet for youth” from the American College of Pediatricians that shows homosexuality to be caused only by environmental factors and no biological factors which means, according to Cohen, that homosexuality is “definitely reversible and changeable.” The American College of Pediatricians, unfortunately, has little credibility here since it was founded in 2002 by a group of ideological doctors who were concerned that the American Association of Pediatricians “promoted social policy based on political correctness and the wants of adults rather than the needs of children.”

Again, religion is not pushed openly as an argument for keeping this law, but the reason there are so many people with “unwanted homosexuality” is because churches and religious leaders keep calling it a sin and condemning gay and lesbian people to an eternity in hell. If the core of your very being has been demonized as an offense to God and society, well, it’s easy to see how some people would not want it.

It would probably be beneficial to continue to seek the “cause” of homosexuality — just as it would be beneficial to seek what “causes” others to be heterosexual, or left-handed, or more prone to diabetes — but such research should be left to real scientists, not a state health department, and definitely not to the agenda driven pseudo-scientists that Cohen relies upon.

In the end, the arguments over “causes” and “cures” of homosexuality are ridiculous. Having Cohen up against Lowenthal in this interview was equally ridiculous. Perhaps for their next trick, CNN can get a Flat Earth Society member to debate Al Gore on global warming. It would have just as much credibility, because there is no “other side” to the gay issue — there is only a continuing need to educate people on the reality of gays and lesbians and stamp out homophobia in all its forms, both scientific and religious.

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