Judge Says 'Ex-Gay' Therapists Must Pay, Texas GOP Doubles Down

In Depth

The Texas Republican Party has written support for “ex-gay” conversion therapy into their party platform at the same time as a judge in New Jersey has ruled that organisations and therapists who use the discredited techniques may be held financially liable for psychological damage done to patients.

Using a parliamentary procedure calling the entire platform to a vote as written originally, the delegates at the Texas Republican Convention had no ability to have any debate about how the various platform planks were being written. The planks referring to homosexuality define being gay as a “behavior” and an “alternative lifestyle,” unworthy of the title of “family” which should have no legal protections based on sexual orientation. Unsurprisingly, this is followed up by support of “reparative therapy,” normally called “conversion therapy” in the medical and mental healthcare literature, as the literature recognises that an attempt is being made to convert someone who already has an innate sexual orientation.

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin…We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.

This type of “therapy” (and make no mistake, it is absolutely nothing of the sort) has been debunked across the mental healthcare and medical community. It has been found to have zero therapeutic benefits, and in fact, causes substantial harm when employed, by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the National Association of Social Workers. The APA went even further and issued a report clearly stating that is there is absolutely no evidence to suggest sexual orientation is mutable, and indeed much evidence to the contrary. California and New Jersey have banned the practice for minors, although they have not yet banned it for adults (despite some calls for doing so).

It’s not surprising then that according to Southern Poverty Law Center, Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso Jr. ruled that Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a “reparative therapy” organisation and its co-defendants could have to pay three times the amounts the men paid to actual, qualified mental healthcare professionals to undo the damage done by the “ex-gay” group.

The court rejected JONAH’s motion seeking to limit its liability. In its ruling, the court held that costs for legitimate therapy to repair damage caused by conversion therapy constitute an “ascertainable loss,” a prerequisite to seeking damages under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. The court also ruled that such costs can be recovered as “damages sustained” under the CFA, potentially allowing the SPLC’s clients to recoup three times the costs they incurred.

So, when the Texas GOP doesn’t like something, like say gay people or climate change, which are simple realities of the world we live in, I guess they think they can just write a couple of platform planks and suddenly we’ll all agree they’re right?

Gregory Angelo, a representative of the GOP LGBT group, Log Cabin Republicans, is understandably less than amused by the situation.

[We] issued a warning to the Texas GOP that if they continued to pursue ex-gay language in the party’s platform, it would be doing no one in the Republican Party any favors…Over the course of the last week, I have read over 100 stories about so-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ being endorsed in the Texas GOP platform and I have read exactly zero stories devoted to Greg Abbott accepting the party’s nomination for governor of Texas…I want to see Texas red…beyond appeasing a very small, anti-gay fringe of the GOP this has done nothing but divide the party and turn voters off from not only the Texas GOP, but the Republican brand nationally.

Personally, Gregory, I think you’re fighting a losing battle here. Now I’m understandably biased, one of those LIBRUL Austin types, but come on. How many times does the Republican party have to tell you that you are not welcome under the “big tent,” before you start to believe that maybe it’s not just a “small, anti-gay fringe,” but rather is representative of the party as a whole?

Come over to my side, dude. We have equality. And cookies.

Image via AP.

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