Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) released on Thursday an open letter addressed to Calif. Senator Ted Lieu, accusing him of endangering youth by denying their right to receive "conversion" or "reparative therapy."
"As parents of gays and ex-gays, we are ashamed of your willingness to take action against parents, children, and the family in order to support gay activists," the letter states. "California is not a socialist state and our children do not belong to the government, subject to the ideology of the state over the objections of their parents."
Lieu introduced legislation earlier this year that would ban therapy for minors aimed at changing one's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual – "regardless of the willingness of a patient" or a "patient's parent." The state senator has called such therapy "bogus" and harmful. If approved, it would make California the first state in the nation to end reparative therapy for minors.
The State Assembly's Appropriations Committee passed the bill this week. It now heads to the Senate for concurrence on amendments made to the measure.
PFOX, which supports families and advocates for the ex-gay community, contends in its letter that Lieu's bill is "an act of childhood endangerment and an unconstitutional attempt to deny parental rights everywhere."
"Your bill will turn California into a nanny state by usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child's right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested. This smacks of fascism and ex-gay bashing."
Lieu acknowledged that the legislation, SB 1172, would infringe parental rights. But he said that's the point.
"The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill because we don't want to let parents harm their children," he said, according to The Orange County Register. "For example, the government will not allow parents to let their kids to smoke cigarettes. We also won't have parents let their children consume alcohol at a bar or restaurant."
PFOX claims that "thousands of men, women and teens with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality" each year. But such "ex-gays," the group notes, are often disrespected and PFOX is trying to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals.
The group argued that Lieu lacks credible knowledge about "changeable sexual preference" and he is promoting homosexual behavior to "sexually confused youth."
In opposition to the measure, both PFOX and NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality) have pointed to the American Psychological Association's findings.
"The American Psychological Association has observed that there are no studies by which to accurately estimate the effectiveness of sexual orientation change intervention or the prevalence of harm," said NARTH President Dr. Christopher Rosik. "In NARTH's view, a truly scientific response would call for more and better research to answer these questions, not a legislative ban that runs roughshod over professional judgment and parental choice."
PFOX also pointed out, "This same APA also stated that affirmative approaches [gay-affirming therapy efforts] have 'not been evaluated for safety and efficacy.' Therefore homosexual affirming therapy should be included in your SB 1172 as it has not been proven to be safe."
If Lieu is concerned about the safety of children, PFOX further argued, then he should also be aware of the 2010 CDC AIDS report.
"77% of diagnosed HIV infections were attributed to MSM (men who have sex with men). Of those aged 13 to 24 youth, 89% was attributed to MSM. In fact, MSM aged 13 to 24 youth had the greatest increase in diagnosis (44%). Talk about harm to children!" the group asserted. "Why do you want to prevent youth from receiving counseling for unwanted same-sex attractions when those attractions can kill them?"
Under the bill, any sexual orientation change efforts attempted would be considered "unprofessional conduct" and the provider would be subject to discipline by the provider's licensing entity.