A California congresswoman wants to federalize a state law to prohibit counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation, including that of pedophiles.
Rep. Jackie Speier has introduced a resolution that calls on states to prohibit efforts to change a minor’s sexual orientation, even if they request it, saying doing so is “dangerous and harmful.”
The resolution is modeled after California’s SB 1172, which passed earlier this year. The bill, which has several lawsuits pending against its implementation, has been labeled by both opponents and supporters as “banning ‘gay’ conversion therapy.”
However, a reading of the actual text of the legislative portion of the bill reveals it doesn’t specifically ban “gay” conversion therapy, but instead prohibits attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.
“‘Sexual orientation change efforts’ means any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex,” it says.
Speier’s resolution contains similar language saying, “It is the sense of Congress that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression change efforts directed at minors are… dangerous and harmful.”
However, the term “sexual orientation” is not defined in either the California bill or Speier’s resolution.
“This language is so broad and vague; it arguably could include all forms of sexual orientation including pedophilia,” Brad Dacus with the Pacific Justice Institute said. “It’s not just the orientation that is protected, the conduct associated with the orientation is protected as well.”
The resolution and SB 1172 define sexual orientation change efforts as those attempting to change the “behavior” associated with a person’s sexual orientation.
Mat Staver, an attorney with Liberty Counsel, which has filed a lawsuit against the California law, said under the bill’s language a mental health counselor could be sanctioned if there was an attempt to get a pedophile to change his behavior, or speak negatively about the behavior.
“If someone were to say their sexual orientation is toward young children and a licensed mental health practitioner were to counsel against those tendencies as opposed to affirming the behavior it is problematic and could result in an ethical code violation by the counselor,” Staver said. “This is an issue that is clearly lurking in this statute.”
In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. A group of psychiatrists with B4U-Act recently held a symposium proposing a new definition of pedophilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders of the APA.
B4U-Act calls pedophiles “minor-attracted people. ” The organization’s website states its purpose is to, “help mental health professionals learn more about attraction to minors and to consider the effects of stereotyping, stigma and fear.”
In 1998 the APA issued a report claiming “that the ‘negative potential’ of adult sex with children was ‘overstated’ and that ‘the vast majority of both men and women reported no negative sexual effects from childhood sexual abuse experiences.’”
Pedophilia has already been granted protected status by the federal government in a way. The Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act lists “sexual orientation” as a protected class; however, it does not define the term.
Republicans attempted to add an amendment specifying that “pedophilia is not covered as an orientation;” however, the amendment was defeated by Democrats. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., stated that all alternative sexual lifestyles should be protected under the law.
“This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability or all of these ‘philias’ and fetishes and ‘isms’ that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this rule,” he said while Congress was considering the plan.
The White House praised the bill saying, “At root, this isn’t just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another – whether we embrace our differences rather than allowing them to become a source of animus.”
Earlier this year two psychologists in Canada declared that pedophilia is a sexual orientation just like homosexuality or heterosexuality.
Van Gijseghem, psychologist and retired professor of the University of Montreal, told members of Parliament, “Pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offense from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality.”
He went on to say, “True pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation. You cannot change this person’s sexual orientation. He may, however, remain abstinent.”
When asked if he should be comparing pedophiles to homosexuals, Van Gijseghem replied, “If, for instance, you were living in a society where heterosexuality is proscribed or prohibited and you were told that you had to get therapy to change your sexual orientation, you would probably say that that is slightly crazy. In other words, you would not accept that at all. I use this analogy to say that, yes indeed, pedophiles do not change their sexual orientation.”
Dr. Quinsey, professor emeritus of psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, agreed with Van Gijseghem. Quinsey said pedophiles’ sexual interests prefer children and, “There is no evidence that this sort of preference can be changed through treatment or through anything else.”
In July, 2010 Harvard health Publications said, “Pedophilia is a sexual orientation and unlikely to change. Treatment aims to enable someone to resist acting on his sexual urges.”
“The courts could very well find themselves constrained to apply it pedophilia conduct as well as homosexual conduct,” Staver said.
He went on to say the law could also be problematic as court-ordered counseling sessions are often a requirement for pedophiles placed on probation. The law would prevent court appointed counselors from criticizing a pedophile’s behavior.
“All of that would be affected by this law,” Staver said.
He went on to say he believes the ultimate goal of supporters is to expand the definition of counselor to include non-licensed persons as well.
“It’s just a matter of time before the state will expand the definition to include non-licensed counselors such as pastoral counseling. These radical legislators want people to force people to receive and counselors to provide only an affirmation of same-sex relationships and anything to the contrary they want to ban.”