Thursday, August 27, 2009

The APA finally recognizes that ex-gay groups can change a person's sexual orientation identity

The APA has published "Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation". Among it's findings, it says ""sexual orientation identity—not sexual orientation—appears to change via psychotherapy, support groups, and life events."

Support groups can include ex-gay groups. The report also says:

"For instance, participants reported benefits from mutual support groups, both sexual-minority affirming and ex-gay groups."

So while it says that sexual orientation identity can change through ex-gay groups, it does not say that sexual orientation can change through ex-gay groups or through therapy. I agree, from my experience, sexual orientation can only be changed through Jesus Christ.

I don't think the APA findings conflict with the teachings of the church at all. In fact, some of the findings seem to confirm what the church has been teaching since 1964. When Spencer W. Kimball talked about people who were gay who later became straight, he did not say the attractions would go away, but that is was "like the cure for alcoholism subject to continued vigilance." In every AA meeting they get together and say they are an alcoholic, even if they have been sober for decades, because the lure is still there. The APA report confirms what President Kimball said back in 1964 that the identity can change, but that the attractions may persist. Nice for the APA to finally catch up.

That isn't to say I think sexual orientation cannot change. The church teaches "While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life."(God Loveth His Children) Note the difference between the APA statement that sexual orientation cannot be changed through therapy, and the church's testimony that same-gender attraction can be overcome through the enabling power of the Atonement. The APA study did not research the enabling power of the atonement.

However, the APA did look at the affects of religion and stated:

"For instance, several publications indicate that active engagement with religious texts can reduce identity conflicts by reducing the salience of negative messages about homosexuality and increasing self-authority or understanding."

They did not reject the idea of celibacy for some clients:

"Some religious individuals may wish to resolve the tension between values and sexual orientation by choosing celibacy (sexual abstinence), which in some faiths, but not all, may be a virtuous path. We found limited empirical research on the mental health consequences of that course of action. Some clinical articles and surveys of individuals indicate that some may find such a life fulfilling; however, there are others who cannot achieve such a goal and might struggle with depression and loneliness. In a similar way, acting on same-sex sexual attractions may not be fulfilling solutions for others. Licensed mental health providers may approach such a situation by neither rejecting nor promoting celibacy."

The statement that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy is not a statement that the person cannot find fulfillment in celibacy. It also talks about how a counselor with a married client should not dismiss the possibility of saving the marriage. It recognized the importance of a person's religious identity, which may include a command for chastity, and confirmed that it does not need to conflict with our sexual orientation identity:

"Identities can be explored, experienced, or integrated without privileging or surrendering one or another at any age."

Our leaders have not denied the existence of a sexual orientation, but have only emphasized that it is subordinate to our identity as a child or God:

"There’s no denial that one’s gender orientation is certainly a core characteristic of any person, but it’s not the only one." (Elder Oaks)

I see no conflict between the findings of the APA and the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Much of the confusion stems from using different vocabulary than the rest of the world. If being gay means living the gay lifestyle for us, but it means having same-sex attractions for others, then it is going to create problems.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm worried about the status of fathers in America.

There is no replacement for a father. A father is a little boy's hero and a little girl's protector. He models how his son should treat his wife and how his daughter can expect to be treated by her husband. He fills a role that no woman can fill. All too often children are being raised without a good father figure. While many children turn out fine without a father, I think a lot of society's problems would be alleviated if all children had both a good father and a mother. I think the decline of fatherhood has had severe repercussions on our society. I believe the government should promote marriages that provide children with both a father and a mother.

That isn't to say single and lesbian mothers aren't good parents. Raising kids without a father isn't the optimal environment, but the most anyone can do is do the best without what they have. Many women recognize the unique benefit a male role model can have on their children, and go out of their way to make sure that there is a constant male role model, whether an uncle or a friend, that can mentor their children. It isn't the same as having a dedicated father, but it can go a long way. Like single-mothers, I believe lesbian can be great mothers, but there should be a recognition of the need for a male role model for their children. Having a separate distinction between civil unions and marriage recognizes that the unique role of a father or a mother would be missing for any children in that civil union. There are many things that go into the raising of a good child, but at the bare minimum, saying that a child's parents are married should mean that the child has both a father and a mother assigned to them.

There are those who do not recognize the unique benefit that only a father has for children. They believe that the gender of the parents is irrelevant as long as they are loving. The Iowa Supreme Court recently said "the traditional notion that children need a mother and a father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else." The Massachusetts government enforces this view by denying funding to adoption agencies that will give preference to placing children in homes with both a father and a mother. They called only placing kids in a home with both a father and a mother "discrimination". A Catholic Adoption Agency was closed down after losing funding because of this law.

Those of us who believe that fathers are irreplaceable are coming under attack. The previous Miss California came under vicious attack after she simply expressed her view that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Many businesses were boycotted and several people were fired because they donated to protect marriage in California.

Some have even equated us to racists. They believe like racists, we should be able to believe what we want, but be barred from bringing our views into the public sector. They wish to teach our kids that fathers offer no unique benefit to a household and those who believe fathers are irreplaceable are bigoted. Some believe the idea that fathers are beneficial is so bigoted that the view should not be allowed to be brought to a vote. In California, those who believe fathers offer no unique benefit to children sought to overturn the vote of those who do. While our vote was finally upheld, our governor, Attorney General, and even one Supreme Court Justice all thought that our vote was so bigoted that it should be considered unconstitutional and shouldn't count.

In California, and a few other states, same-sex couples have the same legal right as opposite-sex couples, so this is not an issue of rights, but a question of what marriage should mean. Do fathers really make a difference, or do fatherless homes provide all that children need and there is no need for a man in a marriage? The outcome will affect what will be taught in schools. Government classes will look at these decisions and learn what it means to be a homophobe. Those of us who believe that fathers are irreplaceable will be reduced to the status of a bigot and like racists, loose the freedom to bring our point of view into the public arena.

I'm worried about the status of fathers in this country. If we can't even stand up and say there is no replacement for a father, where does that leave us? If fathers don't offer anything special, why would a man stick around and help raise his kids, when he knows that the kids has a mother and a grandmother to take of them. Why would a woman wait to have a child until she is married, when everyone tells her she doesn't need a husband to be a good mother?

There is no replacement for a father.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I agree with gay rights, but ...

In my last post, I mentioned that I was very upset about the wording of Iowa's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. They reiterated the stance that sexual orientation cannot be changed, and then said that gay and lesbian individuals cannot fulfill the need for a deep relationship with a marriage to someone of the opposite sex.

While I completely understand why some gay and lesbian individuals do not necessarily want to be married to someone of the opposite sex, there are those that do. I don't know what to call myself now - I think I am bisexual - but I was definitely gay a year ago, and I wanted an opposite sex marriage. Now that I am finally married, I am happier than I thought possible. I have feelings for my wife that I never thought was possible for me to have with a woman.

I have been more vocal about rights and recognition for couples where one of the partners has same-sex attractions as of late, and I have been surprised at the reaction. I get five main reactions:

1) Gay people should not try to change or try to make a heterosexual marriage work.

They say we are not really happy, or we are lying to ourselves. They say it is a good thing to discourage people from enter into marriages, and even that those already in such a marriage should break up. Whatever happened to we could be with whoever we want to be with?

2) No one is telling you what you should do.

Obviously, these people haven't talked to people in group one. Or at least until they don't really understand what I am talking about, and then once they do many oin the people in group 1.

3) I don't matter.

Someone actually told me that first we need to fight for the rights of the majority of gays before we even start to be concerned about the minority of gays.

4) Gays who are heterosexually married work must really be bisexual.

I guess it depends on your definition of bisexual. My question is whether it is possible to change your sexual orientation? I was only attracted to men before my wife. Am I now bisexual? If that is the case, then that means gays can change their sexual orientation and become bisexual. Therefore gays can make a heterosexual marriage work, because they changed their orientation.

5) I never thought of that before.

Finally some open minded people. There actually are quite a few gay rights activists who recognize the fact that not everyone who is gay wants a lifestyle pushed down their throats. Camile Paglio is one that comes to mind.

What I want
Ultimately, we have a lot of the same goals. I also want an environment free of homophobia. I want to reduce the suicide rate of gays and lesbians. I want children to be able to tell their parents that they think they might be gay without their parents telling them they are going to hell.

Can we work together on these goals? I would like to see people acknowledge that some gays want and can succeed at making a fulfilling marriage with someone of the opposites sex. I would like people to acknowledge that while sexual attractions are not a choice, sexual behavior is a choice.

I would like people to stop saying that churches are anti-gay that teach that gays can receive peace through coming to Christ and giving up same-sex relationships. I have received so much happiness and peace through this teaching, and it hurts me that anyone would accuse a church that has brought me so much peace of being unloving or unwelcoming towards gays.

I would like for people to stop saying bans on same-sex marriage eliminates the rights of gays to get married. Say it eliminates the rights of same-sex couples to get married.

Finally, I want schools to teach an unbiased view of homosexuality. Teach some gays have found happiness in same-sex relationships, but others have found happiness in celibacy or opposite-sex relationships. Teach the children that they have the power to choose the direction of their lives, and not to listen to what anyone else tells them is right or wrong.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Apparently, gays are incapable of opposite-sex marriage

Today, the Iowa Supreme Court shot down the ban on same-sex marriage:

What was there reasoning? That people should be able to marry whoever they want? Nope. I wish that were the case. Their reasoning is that gay men are incapable changing and will never be able to fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship with a woman and gay woman are equally incapable of fulfilling that need. It is one thing to say gay people should be able to marry whoever they want, and completely other thing to say they are incapable of being happily and faithfully married to a member of the opposite sex. Here is a section from the Iowa Supreme Court decision:

"Viewed in the complete context of marriage, including intimacy, civil marriage with a person of the opposite sex is as unappealing to a gay or lesbian person as civil marriage with a person of the same sex is to a heterosexual. Thus, the right of a gay or lesbian person under the marriage statute to enter into a civil marriage only with a person of the opposite sex is no right at all. Under such a law, gay or lesbian individuals cannot simultaneously fulfill their deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship, as influenced by their sexual orientation, and gain the civil status and attendant benefits granted by the statute. Instead, a gay or lesbian person can only gain the same rights under the 31 statute as a heterosexual person by negating the very trait that defines gay and lesbian people as a class - their sexual orientation."
"Accordingly, because sexual orientation is central to personal identity and ‘may be altered [if at all] only at the expense of significant damage to the individual’s sense of self,’ classifications based on sexual orientation are no less entitled to consideration as a suspect or quasi-suspect class than any other group that has been deemed to exhibit an immutable characteristic." (See complete statement:

For years I thought this was the case for me. I thought I would be incapable of fulfilling my deeply felt need for a committed personal relationship with a woman. Fortunately, I was wrong. I have changed. I am sexually attracted to a woman, and I am so happy being married, and I think way too many gay men and women sell themselves short are write off opposite sex relationships all together.

Are LGBT rights only for LGBT people who are openly seeking same sex relationships, or do these rights extend to all LGBT people, regardless of how they choose to live their lives? In order to be truly free, LGBT rights must recognize and respect the rights of all LGBT people, and making statements that gay men and women are incapable of a fulfilling opposite sex relationship is discriminatory.