Yesterday, ThinkProgress analyzed the many outlandish claims made by the Pacific Justice Institute’s lawsuit challenging California’s new ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. The Liberty Counsel also promised a lawsuit and filed their complaint this week on behalf of NARTH and the infamous reparative therapist Joseph Nicolosi, who uses pornography in his therapy to treat what he considers to be the sinful condition of homosexuality. In fact, almost every plaintiff in this suit is either one of Nicolosi’s current clients or a therapist who learned ex-gay therapy from him, including David Pickup, who claimed on CNN this week that homosexuality is “caused” by sexual trauma (which he reiterates in the suit).
While the Liberty Counsel suit makes many of the same empty claims about patients’ right to “choose” therapies that don’t work and therapists’ rights to freedom of speech and religion, it also paints a more vivid picture of why the law is necessary to protect children. Among the plaintiffs are two families getting ex-gay treatment for their sons, and the lawsuit claims that continuing this therapy is important, because only by denying their homosexuality can these boys repair their relationships with their parents:
SB 1172 directly interferes with John Doe 1’s and John DOE 2’s rights to self-determination, and the right of their parents to determine the upbringing and education of their minor children, including the well-being of their spiritual needs. […]
Because of Dr. Nicolosi’s SOCE counseling, the DOE 2 family has become closer and exhibited a greater degree of family unity. […] Dr. Nicolosi’s SOCE counseling with Doe 2 has had an important impact on John Doe 2 and his parents and has substantially helped their relationship. […] Dr. Nicolosi believes that if he is prohibited from continuing his SOCE counseling with Doe 2, then Doe 2 will suffer an immediate regression in his understanding of his same-sex attractions and will suffer difficulty in continuing the development and healing of Doe 2’s relationship with his parents.
In other words, if this kid doesn’t keep participating in this quackery to repress his orientation, his parents will go back to rejecting him. That’s exactly what happened to Ryan Kendall, a former patient of Nicolosi’s who testified against Proposition 8 and in favor of this new law:
KENDALL: As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide.
Despite Kendall’s experiences and those of countless other survivors of ex-gay therapy, the lawsuit claims that “many of Dr. Nicolosi’s clients that decide to remain in the homosexual lifestyle have reported that they experienced no harm as a result of SOCE counseling” — a blatant lie.
These lawsuits, along with the support from the most influential anti-gay groups, demonstrate the harmful propaganda still widely promoted against the lives of people who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual. Indeed, Truth Wins Out is “elated” that these lawsuits are helping raise awareness about the myths of homosexuality that have been debunked by science for nearly half a century. The complaints demonstrate that these groups and therapists are so opposed to homosexuality that they would cruelly pit kids’ identities against the love of their own parents and call it “help.”