President Obama now publicly supports banning gay conversion therapy in a move that is both common sense and likely to send Christian fundamentalists into a frenzy over the tyranny of the White House’s secular agenda. Business as usual, essentially.
Last night the White House released a response to a petition regarding the controversial therapy, citing the “overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.” The response is worth reading in full, and elaborates on the extensive harm caused by such programs.
Since the last midterm election, President Obama appears to be engaged in an effort to secure his legacy as a transformative and socially progressive executive, but his capacity to keep up with the ever changing tide of LGBT issues is still pretty impressive. However, this is a better reflection of the public’s growing support of LGBT issues, rather than a liberal president standing on the front lines of progress for once.
Obama’s stance on reparative therapy shouldn’t be all that controversial. It isn’t merely pro-LGBT, but pro-science, pro-psychology, and pro-human rights. It should not be news when the president of the United States to come out in favor of ending pseudo-therapy that deals significant psychological damage to children. But that’s where we are, and undoubtedly, someone is going to have a problem with this.
A while back I wrote about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland as an admittedly extreme example of religious liberty going too far into human rights abuses. It was a problematic example for the most part, but I do think reparative therapy is the closest mainstream analogue to the laundries we have in the United States. Minors are often subjected to these programs by their parents, and in many cases are encouraged by religious leaders or religious-affiliated therapists. No doubt proponents of gay conversion therapy will fall back on religious liberty rhetoric to combat the coming legislative battles. Especially with the Christian right arguing religious liberty over everything from marriage equality to discerning cupcakeries.
That’s assuming there will actually be a battle, though. Reparative therapy doesn’t have a solid defense against political backlash since it is founded on junk science, unlike same sex marriage, which is essentially an ideological battle. At this point the only case to be made is whether the religious have the right to subject their children to backward, psychological torment in an effort to conform to traditional gender and sexual identities.
Whether Obama is leading the charge on this one, or simply following public opinion ultimately does not matter. The fact is, unhelpful ideas about human sexuality are falling by the wayside where they belong. Good riddance.