How The Rekers ‘Rent Boy’ Scandal Could Undermine Prop. 8 Supporters’ Court Battle

Baptist minister and clinical psychologist George Rekers has devoted himself to “curing” homosexuality, co-founded the far-right Family Research Council, and “played a significant role in many of the ugliest assaults on gay people and their civil rights over the last three decades.” Most recently, this anti-gay zealot became infamous for getting caught at the Miami International Airport with a “rent boy.” The male escort, Jo-vanni Roman, said that he gave Rekers “nude ‘sexual’ massages” every day during their two-week trip to London and Madrid.

Since then, Rekers has been causing all sorts of awkwardness for the Republicans, who have heartily embraced him in the past. Rekers, for example, was Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s (R) star witness in a case arguing why same-sex couples are unfit to adopt children. Rekers may even be a problem in cases where he didn’t testify. Today, the New York Times reports on his role in the high-profile challenge to California’s marriage equality ban:

Dr. Rekers did not testify in that case, but his views, in the form of a declaration filed in a previous case, were cited in the documents prepared for trial by two men initially identified as expert witnesses. (Only one, David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, testified.) The question of whether sexual orientation could be altered through therapy was also discussed extensively in court.

Charles J. Cooper, the attorney defending the marriage equality ban, told the Times that Rekers “has had no involvement in the Proposition 8 case.” However, ThinkProgress found at least four ties to the Prop. 8 trial:

1. Blankenhorn was the defendants’ star witness and was eviscerated on the stand by attorney David Boies, who was arguing against Prop. 8 for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Blakenhorn has claimed that he is “not familiar” with Rekers’ work and didn’t “cite anyone named ‘Dr. Rekers'” in his “expert testimony submitted to the court.” However, Blankenhorn did reference Rekers’ work in the bibliography of his “expert report” for the trial:

This Rekers declaration that Blankenhorn references has statements such as “The inherent structure of households with one or more homosexually behaving members deprives children of vitally needed positive contributions to child adjustment and to the child’s preparation for successful adulthood adjustment that are present in heterosexual homes.” (View it here.)

2. One of the witnesses arguing against Prop. 8 was Ryan Kendall, a gay man who was forced to undergo “reparative therapy” as a teenager to make him straight. He “was first sent to see a Christian therapist and then the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH),” and the experiences left him contemplating suicide. Rekers was on the board of NARTH during the Prop. 8 trial and only recently stepped down after the “rent boy” scandal broke.

3. Rekers is a member of the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), which submitted an amicus brief to Chief Judge Walker in the Prop. 8 trial. ACP is a sham, right-wing group. When “the American Academy of Pediatrics passed its policy statement supporting second-parent adoptions by lesbian and gay parents in 2002, a fringe group of approximately 60 of the AAP’s more than 60,000 members” broke off and formed ACP.

4. The Prop. 8 defense had a witness named George Robinson who was going to testify about how being gay is a choice, although he was eventually withdrawn. He had also based some of his expert report on Rekers’ Prop. 22 declaration.

Rekers also testified in a 2004 suit to restrict same-sex couples from fostering children in Arkansas. The judge, however, overturned the law and said that he found Rekers’ claims “extremely suspect.”