Two New Jersey therapists, along with the anti-gay Christian counseling groups they belong to, are suing the state over the recently signed ban on “conversion therapy,” an absurd, scientifically discredited practice that purports to turn gay people straight. Dr. Tara King and Dr. Ronald Newman are both suing for the right to pretend to change people’s sexuality, arguing that the ban constitutes ” immediate and irreparable injury to their most cherished constitutional liberties.” Both therapists belong to the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, who have joined the lawsuit, along with the American Association of Christian Counselors. The suit was first reported by Courthouse News.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the ban on conversion therapy just last week; the plaintiffs filed suit this Monday, claiming the ban is an unconstitutional infringement on their freedom of speech. They’re represented by the Liberty Counsel, a firm that deals with “religious freedom, the sanctity of life or family values,” and who have some pretty novel arguments themselves about homosexuality. From one of their recent newsletters:
The rates of depression, drug abuse, and suicide are exponentially increased for those that embrace homosexuality, and every practicing homosexual’s life expectancy is significantly decreased.To remain silent when people’s lives are destroyed and our liberty is placed in jeopardy by the intolerant pro-homosexual agenda is simply unacceptable!
Exclamation point. Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman, argued in a press release that the New Jersey bill is “so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested by the likes of Jerry Sandusky. Counselors would only be allowed to affirm these unwanted feelings as good and normal. This is absurd and dangerous.”
The lawsuit claims to be all about The Children, arguing that preventing young people from being not-gay impairs their right to “self-determination.”
“By preventing minors from seeking counseling from to address the conflict about or
questions concerning their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions, behaviors, and identities and from seeking to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions, behaviors, or identities through counseling such as sexual orientation change efforts, [the bill] denies or severely impairs Plaintiffs’ clients and all minors their right to self-determination, their right to prioritize their religious and moral values, and their right to receive effective counseling consistent with those values,” the lawsuit argues, with nary a pause or comma in sight.
The youth angle is critical to this lawsuit, especially given that the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality argues that “there is no evidence that people are born gay.” (In fact, mainstream science agrees that sexuality has a strong genetic component.)
One of the two individual therapists in the suit, Dr. Tara King of Brick, New Jersey, bills herself as an “ex-lesbian,” In May testimony before the New Jersey State Senate, she claimed that she never forces “a particular sexual orientation” on anyone, and doesn’t show pornography or practice “shock treatment” on her clients, which is probably at least one mark in her favor. She also demonstrated some considerable conflict about how to classify her own sexuality.
“I am a former lesbian,” she told the presumably befuddled lawmakers. “At the tender age of 16, I was in a same-sex relationship. Even at that age, I didn’t identify myself as homosexual, because it was one same-sex relationship. There are lots of people that have one same-sex relationship that are not gay and do not define themselves as gay, and would benefit from counseling to get to the bottom of what’s going on with them.”
It almost seems as though Dr. King wants to be living proof that conversion therapy can work, and sexuality can be changed, but without the stigma of calling herself “homosexual,” clearly the dirtiest word she can think of. What is that thing that people say about physicians healing themselves? We’re sure it’ll come to us. The full complaint is below, along with Dr. King’s testimony from that May hearing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 27, 2013