The Memphis, Tenn.-based Queer Action Coalition reported Sept. 22 that the exgay live-in “ministry” Love In Action had recruited unnamed antigay lawmakers to assist in its battle to stay open and, if possible, to use its religious affiliation to bypass accountability under laws ensuring the quality and safety of programs for the mentally ill.

But the QAC based its report about the lawmakers on a message from an unidentified individual. The report remains unsubstantiated.

Today, AP (via the Southern Voice) reports that Love In Action has been granted until Sept. 30 to obtain a license for its mental health programs. The Washington Blade and offer similar reports.

The Washington Blade quotes one expert who suggests that Love In Action’s claim for an exemption may hold merit.

Jeffrey Schaler is professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University and editor of Current Psychology. According to the Blade,

[Schaler] he believes that, generally, religious providers of mental health supportive living environments should be exempt from state regulation.

Schaler said courts have ruled that therapeutic activities such as 12-step programs and psychotherapy, “look like religions” in that they occupy a central role in a person’s life, offer tenets to guide one’s daily life, and offer discipline where certain rituals are present.

Efforts to reclassify 12-step and psychotherapeutic programs as religions may complicate, if not obfuscate, the issue.

Peterson Toscano, former live-in participant in Love In Action, refocuses attention on LIA’s marketing and counseling, which emphasize clinical language and pseudo-clinical exercises, not mere religious prayer.

In his article Religious Hubris of LIA, Toscano recounts episodes in which LIA staffers’ reckless or negligent therapeutic behaviors endangered clients’ lives. Commenters formerly affiliated with Love In Action substantiate Toscano’s assertions.

In What’s Next for LIA? Not So Simple, Toscano conjectures that LIA will push hard for loopholes — and political friends — to remain in business. Whether LIA’s leadership learns to conduct its therapeutic programs in a more accountable and reputable fashion remains to be seen.

What Others Say:
Earlier reaction from PFLAG

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