The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has posted an excellent, detailed report on the state of the ex-gay, or “sexual reorientation therapy” movement. It touches on most of the important issues of concern, and should be a catalyst for more debate.
Let’s take the following as a foundation for our view of sexual reorientation therapy:
Reparative or sexual reorientation therapy, the pseudo-scientific foundation of the ex-gay movement, has been discredited by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. The American Psychological Association, for instance, declared in 2006: “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH [the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality] and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.” [emphasis added]
They correctly recognize that ex-gay ministries paint only a grim, distorted view of anyone who might be gay. This tactic has been used in the past to discredit the lives of others and it was no more accurate then than now — though unfortunately it can be quite effective.
About the only time the word “gay” appears in the ex-gay lexicon is in the phrase “gay lifestyle,” which is largely seen as describing a hedonistic mix of one-night stands and sexually transmitted diseases that culminates in early death or abandonment when youthful beauty fades. The ex-gay movement has little language to describe the real world in which lesbians and gays hold elected office, appear on TV shows and raise families.
As “homosexuality as a disorder” becomes less credible to the average person, ex-gay groups are moving farther into the extreme. Just as with racism, those advocating discrimination, both legal and social, against gays are becoming more shrill. As Jim Burroway has well documented, Watchmen on the Walls is a prime example. The SPLC recognizes this as well and points out their connection with Exodus.
Leaders of Watchmen on the Walls, an international anti-gay group that blames the Nazi Holocaust on homosexuals, tell audiences that “one of the most important things you can do is start an ex-gay movement here.” One of the Watchmen’s members serves on the board of the Exodus International and was a keynote speaker at its recent conference.
One of the most disturbing aspects of Exodus International is their departure from ministry for the political lobby. We see this as mutually exclusive; they can’t say they care about gays and at the same time actively lobby against their rights.
Exodus, which for decades had been an apolitical ministry, has transformed itself into a lobbying apparatus seemingly at odds with its nonprofit status as a ministry. This August, Exodus hired Amanda Banks, a lobbyist with Focus on the Family, to direct lobbying in the Congress and the U.S. Senate. Since her hire, Exodus says it has met with 55 national lawmakers. Banks claims that one unnamed U.S. senator regularly consults with Exodus to learn “how to talk about gay issues without sounding like a bigot.”
As case in point, Exodus VP Randy Thomas uses a torturous view of his own experience to make a case against the inclusion of sexual orientation (real or perceived) to the bias (hate crime) laws — laws which benefit him now as a person of faith.
A new spin-off organization called ExodusRoots sends out daily alerts to readers, telling them how to contact their local congressmen to testify against hate crime laws that would protect gays and lesbians. Incredibly, Exodus Vice President Randy Thomas uses his own experience being assaulted and gay-bashed at a Thanksgiving party in 1988 to argue against legislation that he calls “thought crimes laws.” Thomas says he was rescued from the attack by a “pair of angry lesbians” but nonetheless insists that hate crime laws would make his life “as a former homosexual less valuable now than when we were living as homosexuals.”
They end with Exodus President Alan Chamber’s comments from the Family Impact Summit which he attended as an invited speaker.
We have to stand up against an evil agenda,” Chambers told his fellow hard-liners. “It is an evil agenda and it will take anyone captive that is willing, or that is standing idly by.”
There are also quotes from XGW’s own Pam Ferguson, and former XGW writer Daniel Gonzales. A careful reading of the SPLC article will illustrate the main reasons for Ex-Gay Watch. This is a good read, and we invite you to discuss in this thread your own thoughts on the issues they cover.