Sound Science (Not Politics) in the Post Exodus Era

This commentary is in response to Gregory T. Angelo's opinion editorial, "Gay Rights in the Post Exodus Era" (9/30/2013). In his article, Mr. Angelo opines on a number of issues surrounding the science of homosexuality and Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy (pejoratively known as 'conversion therapy'), neither of which he is qualified to do so as a politician. Such misinformation from gay activists, as was seen in Mr. Angelo's article, is responsible for the present clouding between science and politics.

Mr. Angelo incorrectly cited Exodus International as the "standard-bearer" and Alan Chambers as the "poster boy" for SOCE therapy. However, Exodus International never existed as a therapeutic organization, but rather, a network of faith-based ministries providing support for individuals seeking to leave homosexuality. One must be very careful to distinguish ministerial and pastoral care from professionally trained psychotherapists and psychologists that provide therapeutic services for those who experience unwanted same-sex attractions.

Furthermore, to label Chambers, a man with no therapeutic or psychological training, the "poster boy" of the ex-gay movement, especially in light of the fact that he never received psychotherapy to overcome his own same-sex attractions, is disingenuous. It is no secret that Chamber's poor leadership and lack of resolve to do his own therapeutic work played a significant role in the implosion of Exodus. Neither can Chamber's or John Paulk's personal failures speak for the many that have experienced change from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation.

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Angelo goes on to justify the unprecedented laws in California and New Jersey that are prohibiting the rights of minors to undergo SOCE therapy by citing Dr. Robert Spitzer's retraction of his 2003 study: "Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation?" But Angelo failed to include a proper context for why Spitzer retracted this study, namely, that the esteemed Columbia University professor had literally been harassed for a decade by gay activists because of this work, and suffering from an advanced stage of Parkinson's disease, caved to their demands.

Furthermore, commentary from Dr. Christopher Rosik (NARTH Bulletin, May 31, 2012), President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, provides further perspective on the nature of Spitzer's request to the Archives of Sexual Behavior editor who published the study:

The proper term for what Spitzer has done
is provided in the title to his recent letter of apology: He has reassessed his interpretation (Spitzer, 2012). It appears that he may have originally wished to retract the 2003 study, but the editor of the journal in which the study was published-Kenneth Zucker, Ph.D.-denied that request.

Zucker has been quoted regarding his exchange with Spitzer as observing: You can retract data incorrectly analyzed; to do that, you publish an erratum. You can retract an article if the data were falsified-or the journal retracts it if the editor knows of it. As I understand it, he's [Spitzer] just saying ten years later that he wants to retract his interpretation of the data. Well, we'd probably have to retract hundreds of scientific papers with regard to interpretation, and we don't do that (Dreger, 2012).

What Zucker is essentially saying is that there is nothing in the science of the study that warrants retraction, so all that is left for one to change is his interpretation of the findings, which is what Spitzer appears to have done.

In his commentary, Rosik goes on to correctly assert that Spitzer's interpretation (consistent with early criticism from gay activists) changed, yet the findings of the study remained. Spitzer's change revolved around his belief that the 200 subject's reports in the study were not credible, meaning, that they lied about their sexual orientation change. But when he originally responded (in 2003) to the critic's accusation of subject bias in the subject's self-reports, one argument of Spitzer's in particular resounded: "Surely if bias were present, one would expect that subjects (as well as their spouses) would be motivated to give particularly glowing accounts of marital functioning. They did not."

The final error in Mr. Angelo's article is his rationale for banning a psychological and therapeutic intervention – which comes from a survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner from July 2011, which found that 24 percent of Americans believed "gay people can be made straight through intensive psychological therapy or prayer."

What Mr. Angelo, as well as the liberal medical and psychological establishment assume, is that all people who experience same-sex attractions are gay or lesbian. But in fact, being gay is a socio-political term, a self-identification, and one that many who experience homosexual feelings do not identify with.

An individual's sexual identity is defined by just that, the individual, not by a survey, professional association, or political movement such as the Log Cabin Republicans.

The vast majority of individuals who seek therapy to change have unwanted same-sex attractions – these individuals do not believe they were born homosexual − and therefore seek to resolve the issues that are responsible for their homosexual feelings, in therapy.

Had the aforementioned survey be phrased: "Do you believe that self-identified heterosexuals with unwanted homosexual urges can change with the help of professional counseling," the response from those polled would have been dramatically different. As the old saying goes – whoever controls the language, controls the debate. Self-identified gays, like Mr. Angelo, cannot speak for ex-gays and individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction.

As for the reality of sexual orientation change – had science proven a simple biological explanation for the development of same-sex attraction – then there would be little to debate. But science has not (and will not) find that people are born "gay," and those who have changed prove gay activists wrong.

I am one of those individuals that have changed, and today, I am married to my beautiful wife and together we have three wonderful children. If Mr. Angelo believes in the same God as I do and argues for Christians to love gays, he is obligated to extend that same love and fairness towards ex-gays and those who have unwanted same-sex attraction and seek sexual orientation change. That would be true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all.

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