Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gay Cure Therapy and How the GOP in Texas Officially Endorses Consumer Fraud

by Nomad

Try to picture this. The official party platform of a key state giving its stamp of approval for consumer fraud, namely a kind of therapy which has been thoroughly discredited by professionals and is possibly dangerous.

What does this say about the ethics of that party?

Quackery Therapy

This week, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. BarsioJr. ruled  against the gay conversion therapy provider Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH). His official ruling in the case filed by Southern Poverty Law Center against the company states:
It is a misrepresentation in violation of [New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act], in advertising or selling conversion therapy services, to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof.
David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director, commenting on the court decision,
“For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured. This is the principal lie the conversion therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients. Gay people don’t need to be cured, and we are thrilled that the court has recognized this.”
Over the years, organizations, mostly religion-based, were set up  to push  conversion therapy. The idea was that homosexuality was something that could, or needed to be fixed. 

In  recent years, the medical community has pretty categorically condemned the practice as psychologically damaging, especially on young adults. Two states plus Washington, D.C. have passed laws banning the practice for minors.
In addition to somehow being the first time a court clarifies that being gay isn’t an illness, this case is significant because it approaches conversion therapy through an ethical business lens:
The judge also ruled that JONAH is in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act if it offers specific success statistics for its services when “client outcomes are not tracked and no records of client outcomes are maintained” because “there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics.”
All very well but here's the kicker. As we reported last year, the Republican Party of Texas adopted a party platform a nonbinding set of principles for the party.

How Texas Republicans Endorse Consumer Fraud

One of the more controversial addition was its endorsement of gay conversion therapy.  It reads:
“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.
Delegates passed the measure of inclusion reportedly without debate or discussion. Not everybody was happy about the idea. Even the chairman of the Texas GOP criticized the party’s new stance on the issue.

One of the many people who led this particular crusade to get this addition to the platform was former actor Jeremy Schwab, He founded a Dallas-based ex-gay ministry called Joel 2:25 International, a non-profit organization, 
At least one critic of the group has said that while the name of the organization is new, the people behind the facade are familiar faces.
If you are bamboozled into parting with your money and joining this group — you will be greeted by the same discredited handful of “ex-gay” shame-filled snake oil salesmen who have been peddling this poison for decades. Instead of fresh faces, the “links” page reveals a list of tired golden oldies: Exodus International dead enders such as Living Hope Ministries in Dallas, Desert Stream in Kansas City (this group preaches that homosexuality is demonic); and First Stone Ministries, which is run by Stephen Black, a man so radical that he brought Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively into Oklahoma for a seminar.
On his Facebook page, Schwab boasted that he was responsible for the anti-gay inclusion in the GOP platform. He said
“I wrote a new plank for the GOP platform and it passed yesterday. It protects free speech, freedom of religion, and the right of self-determination [in] a specific area where liberals have been working to strip this right from many.”
So, contrary to conventional wisdom, it is the liberals- not the anti-gay groups- who have been wanting to strip away at other people's rights. Who would have thought it?

There is- there always is- a financial aspect involved.
David Pickup, a well-known local practitioner of gay reparative therapy in Texas, not too long ago paid for billboard advertising for his own for-profit services. The pitch "Real Therapy. Really Works" flew in the face of nearly every clinical study on the matter.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Pickup said he sees 25-35 regular weekly clients, and said the cost of reparative therapy is comparable to individual therapy for depression or anxiety disorders. 
"[M]ost of those seeking the treatment say they do it because their feelings don’t match up with their religious beliefs."
His critics suggest that might be the problem. After all, nobody has suggested providing a therapy for religious extremism or bigotry. Yet all over the world, we can cite examples of the destruction that psychological aberration causes.

Like Schwab, Pickup claims he too helped write the plank endorsing reparative therapy in the Texas GOP platform last year. Pickup uses the suitably convincing jargon like an expert. 
“What reparative therapy does is it uses psychodynamic processes to access those deeper wounds that are hidden underneath the homoerotic impulses. It resolves the male identity wounds and helps the guy get those needs met.”
Meeting the needs of gay Texans is quite a tall order and it comes at a price, of course. 
According to one source, Schwab also promoted the same billboard with a photo on his Facebook page:
"Hopefully, this will help get the Truth to those who can benefit,"  
It doesn't take too much imagination to figure out who is actually benefiting from a kind of therapy that has been discredited by virtually all of the relevant medical organizations. Even China- never known for its progressive stance on social issues- has come down on such practices.

In spite of this, the Republican party believes supporting a highly questionable treatment is a politically winning stand in Texas.
The newly adopted platform also endorses reparative therapy for gays — counseling and psychological treatments that aim to turn people straight. The plank garnered national media attention as news of its consideration spread outside of Texas. Committee members said that the language wasn’t meant to impose the therapy on others, but to endorse it and recognize its “legitimacy and efficacy.”
Failure to demonstrate any evidence of "legitimacy and efficacy" of the therapy was exactly the reason for the New Jersey judge's decision against JONAH.   

Colleen Logan, former president of the American Counseling Association stressed that there was "no data to support that you can change someone’s sexual orientation" She said that gay conversion therapy is much more likely to  further  exacerbate "any kind of depression or anxiety that goes along with the stress of having a different orientation in a homo-prejudice society.”

The Story of a Lost Crusade

For years, when confronted with facts about the dangers of fixing people who aren't broken, the Republican party in Texas claimed that 
“the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit.” 
Gay Therapy

Now Stop that! You're
ruining the fabric
The 2014 platform was not an all. That allegation about the breakdown of the family unit was replaced with an equally unsubstantiated claim.
In a section titled "Strengthening Families, Protecting Life, and Promoting Health," the platform declares
"Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans."
That's an incredible piece of phrasing. Jeremy Schwab might be proud of this wording but for the world outside of Texas,  it's just another confirmation of the backwardness of Republicans in that state.
In any case, there's no evidence that homosexuality is a chosen behavior. Quite the opposite is true, in fact.
*   *   *
It is like saying being left-handed or having green eyes is a lifestyle choice, a curable affliction, un-American and against what the majority of Bible-loving Texans are prepared to tolerate. 

The platform also includes a re-statement of the party's opposition to gay marriage.

At this very moment, (as of February 18, 2015) the ban on same-sex marriage is looking increasingly to be another lost cause for the Lone Star Republicans.
A Travis County judge ruled yesterday that parts of the Texas' ban on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
In the order Judge Guy Herman said parts of the state's family code and state constitution, "...are unconstitutional insofar as they restrict marriage in the state of Texas to a union of a man and woman... because such restrictions and prohibitions violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Unites States Constitution."
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has been forced to weigh in on the subject of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage which would impact all states. Most analysts expect the Justices to rule against same-sex bans on the same grounds as the Texas judge.

At that point, the anti-gay plank of the Texas Republican platform largely becomes null and void, another lost crusade that has wasted a lot of time and money.

The Great Republican Consumer Fraud

Now going back to the original question. Americans are now witnesses to a once reputable political party endorsing something that has been shown to be unscientific, unconstitutional, discriminatory, divisive and on top of that, a species of consumer fraud.

Consumer scams are unlawful deceptive practices upon unsuspecting consumers designed to facilitate the payment of money irregardless or grossly disproportionate as to the value of any service actually rendered or any goods provided.
Given that definition, the GOP in Texas (and the rest of the country) should proceed with great caution.

Voters might suddenly begin thinking that all of the policies of the Republican party, such as the principle of trickle down, ALEC infiltration of state legislatures and those Bush tax cuts to the super-wealthy, might all just be most effective consumer scams ever perpetrated on a gullible public in the history of the world.