Monday, August 20, 2012

SB 1172 In The End Zone

A bill that threatens the very licenses of professionals working to transform the sexual orientations of their gay patients is a step away from becoming law. All it takes is for Governor Brown to sign the bill into existence by the end of August. 

The passage of SB 1172 would be the latest in a series of recent actions signaling a widespread condemnation of the practice. Almost all mainstream mental health organizations, from the American Psychiatric Association to the American Psychological Association, have renounced it. The World Health Organization has released a statement saying that such methods "lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being" of patients. Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatrist who published a widely cited study supporting the "gay cure" practice in 2003, recently apologized for his work in the journal where the original paper appeared.
"I believe I owe the gay community an apology," he wrote.

For more than three decades, one of the leading forces behind the practice of attempting to change sexual orientation was Exodus International, a nonprofit group. In June, the head of Exodus International declared at its annual meeting that there was no cure for homosexuality and that the promise of one offered false hope to gays. Just a few years before, he and his wife had starred in advertisements saying, "Change is possible."

Still, there aren't any scientific studies showing that the practice actually causes harm. Anecdotal reports of depression, even suicide, abound, and a task force convened by the American Psychological Association found the practice to be both harmful and ineffective. But when the government regulates a behavior, like driving without a seatbelt or smoking, they can usually draw on volumes of data demonstrating that the behavior hurts people. That isn't the case here, and the few remaining supporters of the practice stress this fact.

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