Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." The lesson Dr. King taught us when he spoke those words, was that a righteous cause must be fueled by love, truth, and justice.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which claims to be "a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society," has been conducting a hate campaign for several years against former homosexual leaders, therapists, and persons with unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA).
The mission of SPLC's hate campaign is three-fold: 1) Character Assassination: spreading false and misleading information on their website and via the media about therapists who offer professional services to individuals with unwanted SSA; 2) Fabricate evidence and embellish the facts about the so-called "dangers" of sexual orientation change effort (SOCE) therapy; and 3) Recruit vulnerable and disgruntled clients to take legal action against organizations that offer assistance for those struggling with unwanted SSA in hopes to put them out of business.
The SPLC's method of character assassination is simple. Repeat a lie loud enough and long enough, and people will believe it. The first lie is that SOCE is inherently harmful to persons with unwanted SSA. On their website, an article entitled "10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked" lists #10 Myth: "Gay people can choose to leave homosexuality."
"If people are not born gay, as anti-gay activists claim, then it should be possible for individuals to abandon homosexuality. This view is buttressed among religiously motivated anti-gay activists by the idea that homosexual practice is a sin and humans have the free will needed to reject sinful urges . . . a number of 'ex-gay' religious ministries have sprung up in recent years with the aim of teaching gay people to become heterosexuals . . . (but) in 2009, for instance, the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution, accompanied by a 138-page report, that repudiated ex-gay therapy."
Let's examine just a few of the SPLC's "facts" about "ex-gay" therapy. The SPLC erroneously asserts that licensed mental health practitioners are religiously motivated and promote the idea that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, the SPLC is combining highly educated professional psychotherapists with religious ex-gay ministries, and then pronouncing that they are one in the same.
In truth, they are not the same, and the SPLC knows that. But it is far more compelling for the SPLC to repeat the lie that psychotherapists simply tell clients to "pray away the gay" rather than to distinguish psychological services with religious interventions. The truth is that decades of scientific, peer-reviewed literature attests to that fact that homosexuality is fluid for some individuals and that some people can and do change from SSA to heterosexuality.
To further extend their hate campaign against professional psychotherapists, the SPLC provides an interactive map on their website of over seventy therapists who offer SOCE. Similar to the map of gun owners that was recently published in a New York newspaper, this "hate" map acts as a black list, putting professionals at-risk for potential violence from those who oppose SOCE.
Informed readers may remember that on August 15, 2012, a gun man charged through the doors of the Washington, D.C. Family Research Council (FRC), which is listed as a "hate group" on the SPLC's website, and shot a security guard after FRC defended Chick-fil-A's comments on traditional marriage.
In a court hearing on February 6, 2013, it was revealed that in an interview with the FBI after the shooting, the gunman admitted his guilt, and said he intended to "kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims' faces, and kill the guard." The prosecutor said they reviewed the family computer and found that he identified his targets from the SPLC's website.
Second in their strategy is to fabricate and embellish the so-called "dangers" of SOCE. In October 2011, I co-facilitated a group therapy seminar in which Samuel Wolfe, an attorney with the SPLC, registered and attended. During one of the breaks, our staff casually attempted to get to know Mr. Wolfe, who avoided telling us his motivation for participating.
After the first day of the seminar, we did a little research and discovered that Mr. Wolfe was indeed an employee of the SPLC. One of our staff members asked Mr. Wolfe why he was attending. Mr. Wolfe claimed that he was doing research on so-called "change therapies" and wanted to see if our seminar really harmed persons with SSA.
We politely informed Mr. Wolfe that we only allowed participants, not observers, to attend our healing seminars, refunded his fee, and asked him to leave. Last April, an article appeared in "The Advocate" written by Mr. Wolfe. Below is an excerpt:
"As part of our investigation, I recently attended a conversion program where participants used 'touch therapy,' which involves being held like a baby by another man, with lights dimmed and soft music playing. The idea is to receive the nurturing missed as a child, thereby becoming more 'whole' and automatically shedding 'unwanted same-sex attraction.' Tragically, some of the participants were teens, prodded by their parents and communities that reject them as they are."
While there is no mention of my organization, the processes he describes are similar to a therapeutic activity that we have individuals participate in, teaching about healthy touch and bonding rather than sexualizing one's emotional needs. Nothing about this program was intended to "shed" unwanted SSA, as Mr. Wolfe claims.
The final strategy used by the SPLC is to recruit vulnerable persons who experienced unwanted SSA and use them to put ex-gay organizations out of business. In late 2012, the SPLC filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) after recruiting so-called "ex-gay survivors" – former clients of JONAH – who were unsuccessful in changing their sexual orientation. The SPLC claims the "plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH's services through deceptive practices."
This is standard practice for the SPLC, who in the past has filed complaints against other counselors for simply offering therapy to clients distressed about their unwanted homosexual feelings. They are a one-hand clapping organization, and it seems things have to be their way or the highway. Organizations like JONAH, who operate on shoestring budgets, are no match against bullies like the SPLC, who has between 200-300 million in assets. It's only a matter of time before the SPLC comes after other therapists like myself (that offer SOCE), and dare to blow the whistle on their hateful practices.
What the SPLC cannot understand is that we are all free, and no amount of bullying will deter me from helping others pursue their dreams, whether gay or straight. I personally have experienced this issue from both sides – I once lived a gay life, and today, I have a wife and children and no longer experience homosexual feelings. Nonetheless, I love all persons who experience homosexual feelings, whether wanted or unwanted. I believe in true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all.