(Photo: Facebook/ Matt Salmon)
The openly gay son of a conservative Republican Congressman has stated that he benefitted from undergoing the controversial practice of reparative therapy as a teenager.
Matt R. Salmon, son of Ariz. Rep. Matt Salmon, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that his taking of "ex-gay" conversation therapy helped him be more comfortable around other men.
"Looking back, I don't regret it. The goal was to become straight, and it turns out what I took away from it was an increased confidence," said Salmon, who entered therapy at age 18.
"A big part of it was really teaching me to make relationships with straight men because that would help me to kind of take on this straightness and so it really helped me actually learn how to talk with men."
Dr. David Pruden, vice president of Operations for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, told The Christian Post that he believed Salmon received "good therapy."
"What Congressman Salmon's son experienced was just good therapy and it is the experience of many thousands of individuals who have sought clinical assistance for their same-sex attractions," said Pruden.
"This hate and misinformation campaign aimed at 'change' therapists is just political posturing and does not reflect the actual experience of individuals in therapy. All this fuss about change therapy is being used to promote a political agenda, not the well-being of clients."
Pruden also told CP that he had often run across patient experiences similar to Salmon's, stating that "this is not an uncommon situation."
"When individuals experience therapy sometimes this may result in a change in attractions, sometimes a lessening of destructive sexual behaviors, sometimes an ability to live a chaste religious life," said Pruden.
"In other words, the therapeutic experience is one of walking alongside and assisting the client in living out their life goals and direction. The goal is not change unless the client expresses a desire to experience some kind of change in their life."
During his interview, Salmon talked with Cooper extensively about the differing opinions on the marriage definition debate between himself and his father.
Salmon's remarks regarding conversion therapy come at a time when a lawsuit against California's ban on conversion therapy for minors is being argued before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last year, California passed Senate Bill 1172, a bill sponsored by State Senator Ted Lieu that banned reparative therapy for minors. Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law. Mere days after SB 1172 became law, the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel filed suit over the new regulation.
Christopher Stoll, senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told The Christian Post that Salmon's experiences show the ineffectiveness of conversion therapy.
"Every major medical and mental health organization has said there is no evidence that any form of therapy can change sexual orientation," said Stoll. "Clearly, since Mr. Salmon is an openly gay man today, his experience with these discredited practices was not effective in changing his sexual orientation."
Stoll also told CP that it is agreed among experts that reparative therapy practitioners "put youth at risk of grave and lasting harms."
"When youth who have been led to believe that they can and should change their sexual orientation find that they have not changed, they often perceive it as a personal failure and a disappointment to their families, leading to negative health outcomes such as depression, substance abuse, and suicidality," said Stoll.
Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, told The Christian Post that Salmon's remarks "can be used to show benefit."
"Clients have the right to self-determination. They have the right to pursue their own counseling goals and to align their conflicts with their prioritized religious and moral values," said Staver.
"We represent clients who have counseled many people who have received benefit and we represent minors and their parents who testify they have greatly benefited from such counsel."
Staver also told CP that he expected a decision from this week's hearing before the Ninth Circuit within the next couple months.