The Walls Are Closing in on the Ex-Gay Industry

From Huffington Post:


In 1998, 15 religious right organizations launched a huge advertising campaign to promote “pray away the gay” programs. Anti-gay activist Robert Knight called the “Truth in Love” campaign the “Normandy Landing in the larger cultural wars.”

Things didn’t quite work out as Knight had hoped. In 2000, I photographed their poster boy, John Paulk, in a Washington, DC gay bar. In 2003, I joined attorney Mike Hamar in reporting that the star of their television campaign, Michael Johnston, was hooking up with men he was meeting on the Internet.

The already shredded credibility of such groups markedly deteriorated this year after Exodus International’s leader, Alan Chambers, said that his “ex-gay” ministry did not work for 99.9 percent of clients. This followed a similar admission from Love In Action ministry leader John Smid. The icing on the cake occurred this spring when Dr. Robert Spitzer renounced his infamous 2001 “ex-gay” study claiming that some gay people could go straight.

The cherry on top of the icing came last month when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting reparative therapy for minors in California, which greatly damaged an industry where more than half of the clients are youth.

This week, the rest of the chickens came home to roost and the roles from 1998 were reversed, with the LGBT community and its allies storming the beaches of the “ex-gay” shoreline.

On Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victims of reparative therapy. Representing four clients, and two of their mothers, SPLC slammed Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its director Arthur Abba Goldberg, and life coach Alan Downing, with an historic complaint alleging consumer fraud.

SPLC’s lawsuit is based on JONAH and Downing’s “misguided and erroneous belief that that being gay is a mental disorder — a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago.” The lawsuit says that some Plaintiffs were instructed to “remove all clothing during both individual and group therapy sessions including an instruction to Chaim Levin to hold his penis in front of Defendant Downing.

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