The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and ex-gay activist Greg Quinlan, of PFOX, present a litany of myths and half-truths in this AFA Radio interview:
This is familiar territory. In 2010, PFOX tried to coerce the Walt Disney Company into including ex-gays in its anti-discrimination policy. I concluded:
If it were about sexual orientation, PFOX would have to concede that ex-gays are already protected. Are ex-gays same-sex attracted? Then they are homosexual, and are therefore protected. Have they overcome same-sex attractions to become opposite-sex attracted? Then they are heterosexual, and are therefore protected. Do they now have heterosexual relationships? Marriages? Then they have the same rights as every other person in a heterosexual relationship or marriage. Do they have no sexual relationships at all? Then they have the same rights as every other celibate person.
What unique attraction or relationship is the ex-gay trying to protect by insisting he be included in a sexual orientation policy?
But that was over a year ago. Since then, research has suggested that men in mixed orientation marriages — that is, married ex-gays — remain just as gay in orientation. And the data comes from an unlikely source: Mark Yarhouse, a social scientist at Pat Robertson’s Regent University and one of conservative evangelicalism’s foremost researchers into sexual orientation change.
Yarhouse, best-known for the 2007 Jones-Yarhouse study with Stanton Jones, drew his latest conclusions from a survey of 106 husbands and 161 wives in mixed orientation marriages. The men had an average age of 45 and had been married 16 years. Conservative Christian therapist Warren Throckmorton summarizes the findings for us:
[The data] demonstrates that the Kinsey scores shift more toward the heterosexual side when the participants were asked about their sexual behavior but when asked about their attractions, fantasies, and emotional attachments, there was no change. The Kinsey Expanded scale included an average of participant Kinsey assessment of behavior, attractions, fantasies and emotional attachments. … At any rate, the results are consistent with what I am finding as well. People adapt their behavior to their beliefs and commitments but their orientation does not shift, on average.
This is consistent with what we’ve seen and claimed here at Ex-Gay Watch, too. Sexual orientation cannot be made to change; behavior can. (Incidentally, Throckmorton says his own research suggests that men in mixed-orientation marriages actually tend to become more gay over time.)
The honesty of this research is welcome. It does, however, raise an ethical issue for Yarhouse, according to Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin. Yarhouse is something of a darling of the Christian Right for his previously published studies on sexual orientation change. So will he let himself continue to be used as a propaganda tool for anti-gay religious conservatives like Fischer and Quinlan? Or will he speak unambiguously to such ideologues about the reality of ex-gays and the myth of “change”?