SB 1172 Can't Withstand Plain, Logical Scrutiny (SB 1172: Ban on Homosexual-Conversion Therapy for Minors)

The following covers several viewpoints raised in an article, "'Conversion Therapy' May Hinge on Pot Precedent," by Scott Graham. The Recorder. March 8, 2013.

...David Pickup says he developed same-sex attractions after being molested as a youngster by an older boy. SOCE, he says in a declaration, "helped save my life. It helped me get rid of all the shame that I had for experiencing homosexual feelings and actually led to the lessening and dissipation of my homosexual attractions."
That perspective troubles people like James Guay, who underwent SOCE therapy at age 16 and testified last year in favor of SB 1172. SOCE begins with the presumption there's something "flawed or evil" about homosexuality, says Guay, who's now a marriage and family therapist. Teens are pressed to identify abuse by a parent or other person that may never have happened, he says. When they aren't "cured," patients are told they're "not praying hard enough, not trying hard enough." The shaming is powerful, he says, "when it's something so fundamental to who we are."

James Guay's point is flawed. "Teens are pressed to identify abuse by a parent or other person that may never have happened...," he says. However, the word "may" clearly indicates that it also may have happened regardless of whether or not a teen is "pressed." Regardless though, SB 1172 doesn't differentiate between therapy where a teen is "pressed" versus where a teen is simply asked without any preconceived notion or coercive action on the part of the therapist. Gauy ignores the situation where the teen is asked, not pressed, not coerced, but actually was homosexually or otherwise abused or neglected and reveals that to the therapist and subsequently makes a breakthrough to reduction of unwanted same-sex attraction, which reduces the teen's (even younger minor's) confusion and suffering, an outcome at least as constitutionally important as the interest of homosexual youth who may not wish to undergo coercive treatments.

Gill proposes that SB 1172 be held to a higher standard of review than rational basis. While not using the words "heightened" or "intermediate" scrutiny, she argues that SB 1172 meets a "reasonable regulation" standard because it is consistent with the norms of medical practice, and preventing harm to children outweighs the therapists' interests in providing SOCE.

There are two huge flaws with this. 1) The alleged harm comes from coercive treatments whereas the law seeks to block all treatments coercive or not. 2) It is not solely the therapists' interests that are at stake but the children's interests where those children do not want to suffer from same-sex attraction. Keep in mind that same-sex attraction, while not always, does come from homosexual sexual abuse of minors.

The law professor amicus group essentially advocates both the AG's and the ACLU's positions. "SOCE enjoys no more First Amendment protection than the hawking of snake oil," writes their lawyer, Jon Eisenberg, of counsel at Horvitz & Levy. But if the First Amendment does apply, he adds, the law would be subject only to intermediate scrutiny. "It cannot be at the level of strict scrutiny, because SB 1172 does not discriminate on the basis of content or viewpoint."

This argument is also fatally flawed for several reasons. For one, it puts SOCE on the level of snake oil as a treatment. However, SOCE has actually worked for thousands of people in diminishing and/or eliminating their unwanted homosexual attraction.

See: Conversion Therapy May Hinge on Pot Precedent.

For additional information, see also: "SB 1172"

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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