Maggie Gallagher has always had a knack for saying with a straight face something that would sound incredibly archaic and ignorant to anyone else living in the twenty-first century. She’s kind of like the Paula Deen of homosexuality, sans any “Today Show” apologies.
This week, as reported here at The New Civil Rights Movement, USA Today chose to publish a dangerous op-ed supporting so called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy. The opinion piece was penned by Nicholas Cummings, a psychologist whose “ex-gay” work included, by his own admission, thousands of patients — from about 1959-1979. Cummings claims in his USA Today op-ed that “hundreds” became straight as a result of his work.
USA Today, by the way, conveniently chose to ignore Cummings’ association with the notorious and discredited “ex-gay” group, NARTH, which is one of the reasons USA Today should apologize to its readers.
If anything, as Warren Throckmorton, who has researched and written extensively on “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy, suggests, “many of those ‘changed’ clients were bisexuals who found ways to live with or minimize their same-sex attractions.”
Needless to say, there’s been considerable outrage over Cummings’ piece.
“In his column, Nicholas Cummings criticizes a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and co-counsel against JONAH, which stands for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. The suit alleges that JONAH falsely promised to turn gay people straight,” responds SPLC President Richard Cohen in USA Today the day after the Cummings op-ed was published:
The plaintiffs, young men, claim that JONAH counselors instructed one or more of them in activities such as beating effigies of their mothers; fully undressing in counseling sessions; being called “faggot” and “homo” while blindfolded in a mock locker room; spending time naked with father figures in bathhouses; and group cuddling sessions among clients and older counselors.
None of these practices works to change sexual orientation. Claiming that they do violates consumer fraud laws, as well as common decency.
Cummings’ column, which failed to disclose that he submitted testimony on JONAH’s behalf in the lawsuit, says the case is an attack on “patient choice.” It is not. The lawsuit is about putting an end to dangerous, shocking and fraudulent practices that prey on vulnerable people.
Now, the anti-gay religious right has built an entire industry on demonizing LGBT people, and they’ve come to embrace the “ex-gay” industry in an effort to legitimize their own work. If you can turn a homosexual into heterosexual, then it’s a choice, or an illness, and that “fact” legitimizes their work. Of course, you can’t, but actual facts have never stopped religious zealots from waging war in the name of God.
The “ex-gay” industry kept the cash flowing into the coffers of hate groups like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, as well as Gallagher’s National Organization For Marriage (NOM).
So, imagine my surprise when Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former Chair of NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, chose to write a glowing response to Cumming’s op-ed.
In her regular National Review column, Gallagher calls Cummings “rather a giant in the field of psychology,” which is kind of like calling ExxonMobile “rather a giant in the field of climate change denialism.”
But the best line from Gallagher’s post?
“Cummings’s point is that competent therapy can be helpful to highly motivated patients who choose to deal with same-sex attraction in other ways than, well, being gay.”
Jeremy Hooper at Good As You writes he didn’t expect Gallagher to become an “‘ex-gay’ water-carrier,” and notes:
In Maggie’s latest, she cites scientific outlier and recent NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality) keynoter Nicholas Cummings as “proof” that gay people can “change.” One big reason why Maggie is in this game at all is because Maggie serves on the board of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, the organization (headed by the quite anti-gay Charles Limandri) that’s fighting in court to defend the anti-scientific practices of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing).
Gallagher, however didn’t stop at her National Review column. She posted a comment, a response at the USA Today piece, which you can see in its full context below, and which included this revealing line:
“People who want to live their sex lives in accord with their moral or religoius teaching deserve the same right to seek help as other gay people.”
In other words, gay people aren’t moral unless they choose to not be gay.
Which pretty much sums up Gallagher’s entire position.
A few weeks ago, Gallagher, on her Facebook page, made a similar statement:
Gay people, primarily religious people but any other peop;le welcome, who want to live their lives in accord with Biblical–or any other–principals, should not be orphaned, disadvantaged, and not allowed any help.
That’s my actual view. Some of those people (probably a small number but I don’t know) may be able with help to marry in the Bibilcial sense. Others may choose to live celibate lives (see Eve Tushnet).
All of this is probably a minority of gay people, but they are real people and they deserve equal rights, too.
Maggie Gallagher, finally fighting for the rights of gay people, in her own very special way…
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