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Why is Texas GOP backing gay conversion therapy?

By Melody Moezzi
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
The Rev. Tony Larsen and his partner, Craig Matheus, are refused a marriage license by Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen, right, in the clerk's office in Racine, Wisconsin, on Friday, June 13. The county does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a judge's ruling that the state ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The Rev. Tony Larsen and his partner, Craig Matheus, are refused a marriage license by Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen, right, in the clerk's office in Racine, Wisconsin, on Friday, June 13. The county does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a judge's ruling that the state ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Texas GOP endorsed "reparative therapy" to convert gays to straight orientation
  • Melody Moezzi says such therapy isn't recognized by legitimate science
  • She says two states have banned the therapy for minors
  • Moezzi: Young Republicans are going to be repelled by such decisions

Editor's note: Melody Moezzi is a writer, activist, attorney and award-winning author. Her latest book, "Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life," will be available in paperback July 1. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyMoezzi. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Apparently working under the impression that they understand the science of sexuality better than the World Health Organization or the American Medical or Psychological or Psychiatric associations, Texas Republicans made a bold statement last weekend.

With zero debate, they adopted a party platform that includes support for a widely discredited form of mental health "treatment" known as "reparative therapy." Also called "conversion therapy," this dangerous pseudo-medical practice aimed at transforming homosexuals into heterosexuals has been widely demonstrated to be both ineffective and harmful, not to mention offensive.

The clearly misguided assumption underlying such therapy is the belief (often reinforced by self-serving interpretations of any number of religious texts) that homosexuality is a disease. However, much like drapetomania (the pseudo-scientific "disease" an enterprising white man conveniently identified in the mid-19th century was described as the condition that led black slaves to attempt escape), homosexuality is in fact not an illness, but rather a fact of human nature. And rejecting human nature can have devastating effects on the psyche, demonstrating that if there is a real disease that needs fixing here, it's homophobia, not homosexuality.

Melody Moezzi
Melody Moezzi

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth experience significantly increased risk for suicide than their heterosexual peers. In fact, as cited by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that provides LGBT youth with crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, LGB youth are four times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide, and their attempts are four to six times more likely to result in injuries that require medical attention. Moreover, LGB youth from highly unsupportive families (like the kinds that would be drawn to conversion therapy) are more than eight times more likely to have attempted suicide as those from more accepting and supportive households.

Recognizing this, both New Jersey and California have banned conversion therapy for minors, and other states are considering similar initiatives.

State rep defends gay conversion therapy
Texas GOP backs 'reparative therapy'

By explicitly supporting such pseudo-therapy, the Texas Republican party has done more than simply turn a blind eye to science and the potentially deadly consequences of the negative attitudes and self-hatred that such "treatments" reinforce. It has reminded us just how out of touch the Texas GOP can be—not only regarding modern medicine, but also with respect to the future of their own party.

According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of Republicans under 30 support same-sex marriage. That's only 1 percentage point less than that of Democrats over the age of 65 who support it. In short, the dinosaurs behind embarrassing and discriminatory platforms like this are guaranteeing their own extinction by clinging onto closed-minded convictions that are clearly on the way out.

But there is hope. As it turns out, some of the most seemingly anti-gay individuals are in fact responding to an internalized homophobia in conflict with their own homosexuality. Keeping this and the aforementioned statistics in mind, I propose that Texas Republicans step into the 21st century by adopting a different kind of conversion therapy—namely, one that replaces fear and bigotry with knowledge, acceptance and respect.

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