Speier: End LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ for kids

A resolution introduced today by Rep. Jackie Speier would encourage states to act, as California already has, against so-called LGBT conversion practices that seek to change a child’s sexual orientation.

The Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution, cosponsored by Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., goes hand-in-hand with Speier’s investigation of whether federal funds have been spent on such practices, which have been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and other mental health groups for decades.

Jackie Speier“Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment. Any effort to change sexual orientation is not medicine, it’s quackery, and we should not be supporting it with taxpayer dollars,” Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release.

“California led the nation on this issue when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1172, a law that prohibits state licensed mental health professionals from engaging minors in these harmful and abusive therapies,” she said. “Governor Brown did the right thing and I am urging all states to consider similar laws.”

Brown signed the state law in late September; conservatives filed a federal lawsuit a few days later, and a motions hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in federal court in Sacramento.

“This law places the state between the client and the counselor,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the plaintiffs. “This law intrudes on a client’s fundamental right of self-determination to seek counseling that aligns with his/her religious and moral values. This law forces counselors to overrule the will of their clients who choose to prioritize their religious or moral values above unwanted same-sex sexual attraction.”

Speier’s SHOK resolution encourages each state to take steps to protect minors from efforts that promote or promise to change sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, based on the premise that homosexuality is a mental illness or developmental disorder that can or should be cured.

Speier also is probing whether federal taxpayer dollars have been spent on conversion therapy with minors through Medicaid or TRICARE reimbursements. Her initial inquiries found “two additional instances of so-called mental health professionals that advertise these services and appear to be eligible for federal dollars,” she said. “This morning, I sent letters of inquiry to Medicaid and TRICARE to determine if these instances reflect systemic weaknesses that allow federal taxpayer dollars to go to harmful, illegitimate medical services.”

Speier was joined at a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill by Sheldon Bruck and Jerry Spencer, who were subjected to this “conversion therapy;” Laura Booker, a licensed clinical social worker; Christine Sun, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director; Ashland Johnson, policy counsel with the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Brian Moulton, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Your tax dollars at work!

  • John W

    “Your tax dollars at work!”

    Good point. Parents who put their kids through this “pray away the gay” exorcism “therapy” probably write it off on their taxes.

  • RR senile columnist

    Yeah, Jackie and co. are right on this one. No homo

  • Steve Weir

    Just speaking about the science, I’ll accept the potential of this “conversion therapy method” being successful, if you can run it in reverse with the same outcome, (straignt to gay).

    I believe that some people ignor the science because it does not fit their belief system. Well, if you want to correct something, try working on that.

    Take it from me, being gay is not a choice. However, self loathing is something that can be addressed, especially with the help of compassionate people.

    “Lighten up, while you still can…”

  • John Hemm

    I have known individuals that have gone thru “conversion therapy”. It is the “Big Lie” that religious groups use to soothe their awful guilt for the way they treat Homosexuals. Conservative Christians speak of the great love of humanity out of one side of their mouth,and the hatred for Gays out of the otherside. I suggest anyone having difficulty with a gay son or daughter read “Prayers for Bobby”,by Mary Griffith. Hopefully they will realize the horrible damage they have done to their child.

  • John W

    Re: 4

    Science? Even mouthing that word gets you “primaried” in the “modern” day GOP. I especially love the medical doctors in the House GOP caucus who advocate teaching “creationism” in the classroom. Fine by me, as long as it’s a bible school classroom in a church.

    I think we can all well remember the exciting day when we woke up and decided it was time to flip a coin and select our respective sexual orientation.

    Marcus Bachmann seems to have made a fine living offering conversion therapy (one-way). Beyond that, I’ll not comment.

  • John W

    FYI, Steve Weir

    Actor Christian Slater provisional ballot rejected in Florida.

    I know, this is way off topic, but I thought Steve and other readers would find this interesting.

    It is being reported that actor Christian Slater had his provisional ballot rejected in Florida. After waiting in line 5 hours in Florida’s chaotic election day mess, he learned that the DMV had not registered him to vote. So, he was invited to register on the spot and cast a provisional ballot. So far, so good. But then he recently received a letter informing him that his ballot had not been counted, because his signature did not match the signature on file at DMV. They also had his name wrong — Christina Slater.

    This appears to be due to incompetence rather than the Florida GOP effort to suppress the vote in Democratic-leaning counties. Hasten to add, though, that the long lines were due to the governor’s decision to cut early voting days from 14 to 8 despite the complex 10-page ballot and numerous calls for him to reverse his decision. But it also again points out why some of us get a little nervous about the signature-match process when voting by mail. If it can happen to a celebrity, what about us ordinary folks? Steve has pointed out that signature rejection locally is more of a factor among young voters rather than older voters with shaky, “evolving” signatures. Not sure what the deal is with the younger voters, but I am losing my enthusiasm for choosing to vote by mail because of this issue.