On Tuesday, Aug. 29, the California State Assembly approved State Sen. Ted Lieu‚Äôs historic bill, SB 1172 that would prohibit licensed therapists from using junk science to try to ‚Äúconvert‚ÄĚ LGBT youth to a heterosexual orientation. The bill also helps protect vulnerable parents from falling prey to the antigay tactics and hype spouted by totally discredited psychological hustlers such as NARTH,¬†the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs heartening to see the majority of the Assembly agrees that this kind of so-called ‚Äėtreatment‚Äô essentially is psychological abuse of children,‚ÄĚ said Lieu (D-Torrance). ‚ÄúEven the person who brought any legitimacy to this kind of psychological technique, Dr. Robert Spitzer, renounced his study and apologized to the LGBT community. Even professionals agree that this quackery needs to stop.‚ÄĚ
The bill now heads to the Senate for concurrence or amendments by no later than midnight Friday, Aug. 31. If passed, it will apply to licensed therapists ‚Äď not, as Box Turtle Bulletin‚Äôs Jim Burroway points out, the scads of unscrupulous ex-gay ministries and unlicensed ‚Äúcounselors‚ÄĚ who are not obligated to observe the law. Antigay SaveCalifornia.com¬† issued an alert to urge Gov. Brown to veto the bill; the Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin sent a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown urging him to support SB 1172, ¬†(Here‚Äôs how you can reach Gov. Brown: Phone: (916) 445-2841, Fax: (916) 558-3160 or email)
Though the really bad old days have gone when knuckle-dragging state legislators would enthusiastically pepper their speeches with horrific antigay rhetoric ‚Äď but the occasional throwaway slurs still occur. ¬†And no matter how lofty the position of power ‚Äď the ugly words still hurt and matter, as Speaker John A. P√©rez - the nation‚Äôs first openly gay elected Speaker ‚Äď noted in his remarks supporting SB 1172.
‚ÄúIt is inappropriate for anybody, even parents to subject children to dehumanizing activity,‚ÄĚ said Perez. ‚ÄúNow this [so-called ‚Äúreparative therapy‚ÄĚ], in my opinion, is an abusive practice in the guise of therapy. And the reality of kids who have come through this, who‚Äôve taken their lives, who‚Äôve had their lives damaged as a result of this so-called ‚Äėtherapy,‚Äô is incredibly, incredibly negative. There is a question of what kinds of laws we should be debating and I think none are more important than laws that speak to our very humanity as people.‚ÄĚ
Mind you, Perez is a man of enormous political power ‚Äď the third in the line of succession to be governor ‚Äď who, in another historic first, was just elected President of the 20-year old National Speakers Conference (NSC) for 2013. NSC represents all Speakers of the House and their chiefs of staff with an annual gathering – over which Perez will preside ‚Äď that is purportedly ‚Äúthe single largest gathering of presiding officers in the nation,‚ÄĚ according to a NSC press release.
But Perez is also a gay man who knows the pain of society‚Äôs harsh disapproval. ‚ÄúWe live in a world that often seems hostile to gay people and tells us we should be ashamed of who we are. And that makes us feel alone, even when we‚Äôre surrounded by our family and friends. But it gets better,‚ÄĚ Perez said in an It Gets Better video during the Thanksgiving holidays in 2010. (See the entire video below).
Perez therefore carries the weight of power and powerful authenticity when he rises to support SB 1172:
Speaker Perez says It Gets Better: