FRC Blog

Protest Planned Parenthood Rallies Take the Nation by Storm

by Arina Grossu

August 25, 2015

Over the weekend, I was very encouraged to see the turnout and the passion at the Protest Planned Parenthood rally in D.C.  Concerned Americans rallied at over half of the nation’s Planned Parenthood facilities. In fact, so far 280 of the 353 cities reported a total of more than 68,000 people rallying in 49 states and six countries at the largest protest of Planned Parenthood since its existence. 

This is historic.  The Washington Post reported on the “thousands” of protesters, but that number will likely be above 100,000 participants once all of the cities have been tallied-up.

The national momentum to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood is growing.  There are now 13 states that have announced investigations and five states that have defunded their state Planned Parenthood.  Yet, we must keep up the pressure.  The rallies gave an opportunity for those who felt horrified and helpless after watching the gruesome videos released by the Center for Medical Progress to do something in their very own communities and stand up for women who are being exploited and for the unborn babies whose organs are being trafficked. 

Planned Parenthood’s other non-abortion services can easily be replaced by the close to 15,000 federally-qualified health centers.  In fact, Planned Parenthood’s annual report reveals that such preventive services as cancer screening and prevention programs and prenatal services, have dropped by half, while its abortion numbers remain up.  And, by the way, Planned Parenthood provides no mammograms. 

Not only can we do without Planned Parenthood, but we are better off defunding it so that over half a billion taxpayer dollars will be available to comprehensive women’s health clinics that actually care for women’s health. 

We must continue to urge Congress and state leaders both to investigate Planned Parenthood for its blatant human rights abuses and defund it.  Please join over 20,000 and sign this FRC petition calling for Congress to remove funds from Planned Parenthood.  What the rallies across the country have shown is that our voices joined together are making an impact.  We need to keep the pressure up in our local communities and states so that this organization does not benefit from one more dime of taxpayer funds and that it will be investigated for its indisputably evil practices.

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Not just Sunday, but every day

by Brittany Jones

August 20, 2015

George Washington once said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” Benjamin Franklin, deemed one of our nation’s most irreligious Founders, opined that “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Once upon a time, through tax-exemptions and other initiatives, our nation sought to encourage religious groups to contribute to society by teaching the populace to be moral and to care for those who are less fortunate. However, in recent days, even leaders of the “free” world are calling for the faith community to ensconce their beliefs behind the four walls of the church. No longer are religious beliefs seen as a necessary support for society, but rather as discriminatory ideas set against the “public interest.” No longer does our society understand that Christianity is not only what a person does on Sunday but also the way he or she lives throughout the entire week; not only in one’s private life but also in one’s public life. In an age of multiculturalism, Christianity is seen as culture-killing rather than life-giving, and thus, many are trying to suppress it.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even said that in order to promote a social agenda in Africa, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Her remarks reveal the fact that Christian culture is increasingly viewed as a hindrance to society and thus orthodoxy at its best can be tolerated and at its worst ought to be suppressed. This shift has led to calls for the end of tax-exemptions for religious institutions.

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Colorado Appeals Court Refuses to Protect Religious Freedom

by Travis Weber

August 18, 2015

The Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled against Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner Jack Phillips, affirming an administrative ruling that Phillips discriminated against homosexuals as a protected class, and directing him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding—in spite of his religious objections to being forced to help celebrate a same-sex marriage. Phillips may now appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court, but his opportunities for vindicating his religious freedom in the courts are running out.

While David French does a good job of breaking down the ruling and summarizing its problems at National Review, I want to focus on one very problematic portion of the decision, buried at the end of Footnote 8: the court’s attempt to distinguish and reject a Kentucky judge’s decision earlier this year vindicating the right of a printing business, Hands on Originals, and its owner Blaine Adamson, to not be forced to print t-shirts for a gay pride parade. The Colorado Court of Appeals acknowledged the similarity of the Hands on Originals case, but then attempted to (unsatisfactorily) distinguish the two:

[In Hands on Originals], evidence established that the T-shirt printer treated homosexual and heterosexual groups alike… . Specifically, in the previous three years, the printer had declined several orders for T shirts promoting premarital romantic and sexual relationships between heterosexual individuals, including those portraying strip clubs and sexually explicit videos… .

Although [Hands on Originals], like Masterpiece, based its refusal on its opposition to a particular conduct—premarital sexual relationships—such conduct is not “exclusively or predominantly” engaged in by a particular class of people protected by a public accommodations statute… .

Opposition to premarital romantic and sexual relationships, unlike opposition to same-sex marriage, is not tantamount to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

At best, this is sloppy analysis. At worst, it’s an intentional slight-of-hand to get rid of an unhelpful case. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s the latter.

What the court misses in its characterization above is that Adamson was not primarily acting out of opposition to any one activity or group, but was simply seeking to live out his faith—which might be manifested from time to time in specific situations as being in opposition to certain behaviors that he finds morally objectionable. Adamson’s refusal to print the t-shirts was not primarily “based … on [his] opposition to a particular conduct—premarital sexual relationships,” but was based on the exercise of his one cohesive set of religious beliefs—which apply to many different types of sexual conduct.

The court fails to mention that Hands on Originals was charged with sexual orientation discrimination for not wanting to make t-shirts for a gay pride parade. Adamson was able to point to other instances where he lived out his beliefs at work—beliefs, just like those of Phillips, which are opposed to any sexual activity outside of God’s design, which includes opposition to any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

Phillips sought to live out the same beliefs. The fact that he hasn’t had the “opportunity” to decline business from customers seeking to celebrate other types of sexual activity outside God’s design doesn’t convert his actions into discrimination against homosexuals as a class of people. The court didn’t seem to comprehend this point in erroneously distinguishing the Hands on Originals case. Indeed, Phillips was happy to serve customers regardless of sexual orientation; he just didn’t want to be implicated in their same-sex marriage.

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop was living out the same beliefs as Blaine Adamson of Hands on Originals. The Colorado Court of Appeals should have likewise recognized and protected his freedom of belief. We must hope that other courts will have the courage to do so.

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Chick and Ruth’s Delly: After half a century, it’s still about family

by Robert Morrison

August 17, 2015

Here’s an upbeat family story about an Annapolis institution, Chick ‘n’ Ruth’s Delly. In business now for fifty years, this orange Formica, classic American eatery is known for its good food and good cheer. You can even order a sandwich named for your favorite Maryland politico. Best of all in this state that gave us the Star Spangled Banner is the daily Pledge of Allegiance ceremony (8:30 am weekdays/9:30 am weekends).

Click here to read the entire story.

 

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Framing Christian Thinking About Human Sexuality: Three Theological Considerations

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 17, 2015

What follows are three points regarding historic Christian teaching about human sexuality. This list is neither comprehensive nor thorough, but instead addresses three of the most commonly-raised issues relating to the Bible and sexual matters.

 

  1.  Of the three components of the Mosaic law, the ceremonial and sacrificial element was symbolic of both the need for holiness and the need of a mediator between God and man, and the civil element applied only to Israel in a specific historic context (although the principles are relevant - e.g., the prohibition against allowing children to play on rooftops so they won’t fall off was animated by trans-cultural need to protect children). The moral element of the Mosaic law articulated in Exodus through Deuteronomy is composed of commandments that are found from Genesis through Revelation. The moral law is applicable to all people at all times.
  2. Using careful exegesis and sound hermeneutical principles, faithful believers can come to different conclusions about eschatological, ecclesiastical, and other non-essential theological matters. But no honest evaluation of Scripture can lead to any conclusion other than that sexual intimacy is reserved for one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. This teaching is not ambiguous; it is clear.
  3. If the Bible is God’s written Word, its teaching is not malleable and the truths it teaches cannot be tailored to any culture’s preferences. If all Scripture is God-breathed, its authority is final.  Thus, faithful Christians are not to employ fanciful exegetical gymnastic exercises to obtain the result they wish but are called by God to submit to His propositional, clear, and authoritative Word.

To learn more on this topic watch FRC’s lecture featuring Robert Gagnon, as well as our articles ‘Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality’ and ‘The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage and Family.’

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A Simple Equation: pro-life + pro-marriage = pro-family

by Erin Amsberry

August 7, 2015

On Monday, 100 groups and organizations signed a letter urging members of Congress to vote against the proposed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. It should come as no surprise that next to the usual abortion defenders such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, stood gay activist groups like the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign. This letter reminds us that while the abortion and gay “marriage” movements appear to be quite different, in reality, both are alike in that they present a clear affront to the family.

There is no dispute that the last few months have been significant ones for the future of the family. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court, through judicial activism, redefined an institution long-established as the foundation of society — marriage and subsequently, family. While the root of society has been attacked on one front, strides are being made to strengthen it on another. Many organizations, private citizens, and legislators are calling for legal action to be taken against Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, after videos surfaced suggesting a breach of federal law. One cannot ignore the strong connection between the fights for life and natural marriage, as they are alike in their significance and the similarity of the political battles that they face.

The similarities between Obergefell v. Hodges and Roe v. Wade abound. Those advocating abortion and same-sex marriage have disrupted social norms, used the courts to impose their worldview, and attempted to silence individuals who hold to the truth about marriage and the value of human life. The pro-life movement responded to Roe v. Wade by refusing to accept the decision as a settled debate; they continued to speak against abortion even though it was accepted as legal. The pro-marriage movement must respond in the same way to Obergefell v. Hodges. Public opinion did not shift overnight in the pro-life fight and there is admittedly much work yet to be done, but particularly at the state level, great strides have been made toward ending abortion.

The pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” movements are also similar in that they redefine terms and distort values. Abortion suggests that human life only has value once it is desired. Legalizing same-sex unions reduces marriage to nothing more than a contract between consenting adults. Both of these ideologies fail to recognize the more substantive nature of reality – that life is inherently valuable and marriage is much more than attraction between adults.

Same-sex “marriage” and abortion are inextricably linked because both attack the very foundation of society. A society that lacks a proper view of children relegates family to the status of a social institution which provides nothing more than companionship. Rebuilding a culture of life with a rightly understood value placed on children requires a proper view of sexuality since as social science research suggests, sexual license increases the incidence of abortion. There is much work to be done in influencing culture with the truth about marriage and life.

The alliance between pro-abortion and the gay rights supporters reveals that instead of standing solely for life or solely for marriage, pro-family advocates must unequivocally stand against all attacks on the family. Pro-marriage advocates can and must work with the pro-life movement toward the same goal of strengthening the family. As the gay activist and pro-abortion coalition letter reminds us, being comprehensively pro-family means standing up for the natural, intact family at all times, whether that means protecting life from conception to natural death, discouraging no-fault divorce, or upholding marriage between one man and one woman as God designed. Ultimately, all of these efforts influence one another.

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Religious Liberty in Action: A Lesson from Early America

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 6, 2015

This week marks the 411th anniversary of the birth of John Eliot. Not familiar to you? Eliot, an Englishman by birth, came to the colony of Massachusetts where, so burdened for the salvation of the regional Indians, he translated all 66 books of the Bible - after developing an Algonquian grammar, no less - into the language of the Native Americans around him. The Eliot translation was published at Harvard College.

Sharing the Gospel with those who had never heard it was of Supreme importance to Eliot. And the religious liberty he enjoyed enabled Eliot to pursue his deep desire to enable the Algonquian Indians to read the good news about Jesus Christ in their own tongue.

American religious liberty has been with us since the dawning of the country we have become. FRC’s Freedom to Believe site is a compilation of stories of men and women whose exercise of the God-given, constitutionally-guaranteed religious liberty we always have enjoyed has been placed at-risk. John Eliot would, I think have stood with them. FRC does. Join us. And look up the Eliot translation online to be reminded why this core liberty is so critical.

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New Poll Finds High Support for Religious Liberty

by Travis Weber

August 5, 2015

A just-released poll shows very high support for religious freedom, especially in the context of that freedom being pitted against gay rights.

According to Caddell Associates, which conducted the poll, “[t]here is an overwhelming sense on the part of American voters that they want to find common ground in order to protect both the expression of religious freedom and the rights of gays and lesbians.  What is clearly being signaled is an aversion to having an all out cultural war between these competing interests.”

While poll respondents broadly supported protecting the rights of all, “when asked which was more important, by a four to one ratio, voters said protecting religious liberty (31%) over protecting gay and lesbian rights (8%).” Notably, over half of the respondents (53%) said both were important.

Support for religious freedom jumps even further in the context of wedding vendors. 83% said “yes” when asked whether a Christian wedding photographer with “deeply held religious beliefs opposing same sex marriage” as “the right to say no” to a same-sex couple asking him or her to photography their wedding. Amazingly, even “80% of Agnostic/Atheists said the photographer had the right to say no.”

The polling also found that a majority believe “that the military has no right to regulate the religious actions of military chaplains. “

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, the poll shows that “Americans reacting to the Supreme Court’s approval of same sex marriage desire a truce between religious freedom and gay rights.” However, “if pushed,” they “overwhelmingly side with protecting the liberty of their faith by a margin of 4 to 1.”

It is clear that a broad swath of Americans are demanding that individual rights must be on the table of protections as we move ahead in a world of legalized same-sex marriage.

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Is Homosexuality “Immutable?” Justice Kennedy’s Shaky Bridge to Redefining Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2015

Many conservative commentators have dissected Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges. In that case, a slim 5-4 majority declared that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution requires every state to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. One wonders what the authors of that 150 year-old amendment would have thought of this notion.

Few, however, have noted two passing comments that actually describe the key factual assumption on which the entire decision rests. Justice Kennedy declared—twice—that a homosexual orientation is “immutable.”

On p. 4 of the opinion, Kennedy writes,

 … [I]t is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions… . And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.

Then on p. 8, he says,

Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.

Why does this matter?

The “Right to Marry”

First, the core of Justice Kennedy’s argument is that homosexuals have been denied the “fundamental right to marry,” which the Court has described as a “liberty” interest protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment in earlier cases. The amendment says a state may not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).

However, another key precedent concerning the analysis of “fundamental rights” under this clause, a 1997 case involving assisted suicide called Washington v. Glucksberg, has said that before a new “fundamental right” can simply be declared by the Court, there must be a “careful description” of the asserted right, and it must be shown that the “right” so described is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

This “Glucksberg test” was a serious problem for those claiming a “fundamental right” to same-sex “marriage.” It is obvious that a “careful description” of the right being asserted in the Obergefell case was “the right to marry a person of the same sex.” It is even more obvious that “the right to marry a person of the same sex” is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Justice Kennedy got around this seemingly insurmountable obstacle in two ways. First, he simply denied that the binding precedent of the Glucksberg test was actually a binding precedent. Justice Kennedy declared (wrongly), “History and tradition guide and discipline this inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.” It is notable that in the portion in which Kennedy made this statement, he cites a case from 1961 (Poe v. Ullman), rather than the later precedent of Glucksberg. Chief Justice Roberts pointed this out in his dissent, saying that “the majority’s position requires it to effectively overrule Glucksberg.”

Second, Justice Kennedy argues that the issue is not whether there is a “right to same-sex marriage,” but rather whether gays and lesbians, as persons, may exercise the “fundamental right to marry” which belongs to everyone.

The answer on the face of it is that, even when marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman, people who identify as gays and lesbians are entirely free to marry. Marriage licenses have never inquired as to the sexual orientation of the spouses. A self-identified gay man may marry—as long as he marries a woman. A self-identified lesbian may marry—as long as she marries a man.

Sexual Attraction as the Basis for Marriage

This sounds absurd to many people—why would you marry someone to whom you are not sexually attracted?

To treat sexual attraction as the fundamental basis for the definition of civil marriage is to assume that the reason marriage is treated as public institution is to promote relationships that bring sexual pleasure to the spouses.

While this may be an important personal interest for the majority of people who marry, it is hard to argue that there is a public interest merely in promoting sexual gratification.

The federal government should not be deciding if people can marry based on their sexual interests.  After all, don’t we want to keep the government out of our bedrooms?

It is particularly odd that the Court would (implicitly) say that sexual attraction is foundational to the definition of marriage, but the potential for procreation (in which there is a significant public interest) is not. The public purpose of marriage historically has been grounded not in the encouragement or affirmation of sexual relationships, but in the need to stabilize them because of the recognition that wanton sexual expression leads to social decay: massive out-of-wedlock births and parentless children, children growingup reckless and uneducated, etc.  Seeking to avoid these and other problems, marriage for millennia has been a public institution, one animated by its implications for society as a whole.

Yet while same-sex marriage claims to imitate natural marriage in stabilizing relationships, the public purpose of such stabilization – prevention of unrestricted, chaotic, and socially disruptive procreation – becomes irrelevant given the inability of same-sex partners mutually to create children. 

I have written about the public purposes of marriage in relation to sex and procreation elsewhere.

In any case, the first premise Justice Kennedy requires in order to claim that self-identified gays and lesbians have been denied the “fundamental right to marry” is the premise that marriage is about sexual attraction.

Is Homosexuality Immutable?

A second premise is also necessary, however. To conclude that a one-man, one-woman marriage definition denies to self-identified gays and lesbians the “fundamental right to marry,” one must not only assume that sexual attraction is foundational to marriage, but must also assume that such attractions can never change—that they are “immutable.”

Justice Kennedy included the “immutability” claim because it is necessary to give his “fundamental rights” argument any coherence at all. Only if (a) sexual attraction is fundamental to marriage and (b) sexual orientation is “immutable” can it be argued that a law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the same as a law saying that there is an entire class of persons (self-identified gays and lesbians) who are denied the fundamental right to marry because it is impossible for them ever to marry.

In support of this claim (that a homosexual orientation is “immutable”), Justice Kennedy cites an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief filed in the case by the American Psychological Association (APA—not to be confused with the other APA, the American Psychiatric Association).

This brief can be found online on the Supreme Court’s website here.  Yet surprisingly, a word search shows that the word “immutable” appears nowhere in the brief.

The closest to which it comes is a statement, in a topic heading, that sexual orientation “Is Highly Resistant to Change.” This is not the same as “immutable.” The word “immutable” suggests an absolute, 100 percent, without-exception type of statement. Race is an immutable characteristic (and the mockery of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claims to be black, simply demonstrates the widespread understanding of that fact). One’s biological sex is “immutable” (the “gender transition” of transgendered Americans notwithstanding). “Highly resistant to change” is a strong statement, but in an entirely different category from truly immutable characteristics such as race and sex. It is definitely not an absolute one.

However, when one reads the entire text of the section of the APA brief that Kennedy cited, the actual evidence offered hardly even supports the “highly resistant to change” characterization. For example, the section begins this way:

Sexual orientation refers to an enduring disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions to men, women, or both. It also encompasses an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them. Although sexual orientation ranges along a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual, it is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual (having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of the other sex), homosexual (having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of one’s own sex), and bisexual (having a significant degree of sexual and romantic attraction to both sexes).

This description bears a striking resemblance to the key point I made in my 2011 pamphlet, Debating Homosexuality—namely that “sexual orientation” is not one thing, but is an umbrella term for several different things. They include a person’s sexual attractions, sexual behavior, and sexual self-identification. The APA cites all three of these (“attractions,” “behaviors,” and “identity”), while even adding a fourth category (“membership in a community”).

This brings me to a “gotcha” question often asked by people in the media: “Do you think people are born gay, or do they choose to be gay?” The best answer is, “Neither,” because the question presents a false dichotomy.

No one knowledgeable about “sexual orientation” issues would claim that most people with same-sex sexual attractions “choose” to experience those attractions. However, the meaning of “sexual orientation” is not limited to sexual attractions, as even the APA acknowledges. It also “encompasses” behaviors, identity, and “membership in a community”—all of which are primarily a matter of personal choice, and therefore by definition not “immutable.”

In addition to defining “sexual orientation” in terms of multiple factors, all but one of which involve significant freedom of choice, the APA brief uses other language one usually would not expect in a description of an “immutable” characteristic. It says that sexual orientation “ranges along a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual,” and that each of the two major poles of sexual orientation, heterosexual and homosexual, can be defined in terms of “attraction primarily or exclusively” (emphasis added) to either opposite or the same sex. The use of the word “primarily,” and not just “exclusively,” is a concession that some people may identify as “homosexual” even though they have some opposite-sex attractions. Again, this is hardly as absolute as the word “immutable” would suggest.

Although I would never argue that sexual attractions are primarily “chosen,” the APA actually concedes that at least some homosexuals acknowledge that “choice” played a role in their sexual orientation. Here is what the APA wrote about that topic in the amicus brief cited by Justice Kennedy:

Most gay men and lesbians do not experience their sexual orientation as a voluntary choice. In a [national survey], only 5% of gay men and 16% of lesbians reported feeling they had “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of choice about their sexual orientation. Fully 88% of gay men and 68% of lesbians reported that they had “no choice at all.”

But if sexual orientation is inborn and “immutable,” as Justice Kennedy asserts, wouldn’t you expect 100% to say that they had “no choice at all?” The fact that, among self-identified lesbians, nearly one in three said they had at least some choice, and nearly one in six said they had “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of choice, would seem to seriously undermine the notion that homosexuals are always “born gay and can’t change.”

The APA’s brief also cites another publication the APA issued in 2009 which addressed the issue of “sexual orientation change efforts.” Here is how the brief characterizes the conclusions of the 2009 publication:

Although some groups and individuals have offered clinical interventions that purport to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual— sometimes called “conversion” therapies—these interventions have not been shown to be effective or safe. A review of the scientific literature by an APA task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to succeed and can be harmful.

One thing to know about the 2009 publication is that—like the 2015 amicus brief—nowhere in either texts is the word “immutable” used to describe sexual orientation. Note also the less than absolute language of the conclusion—saying that such efforts “are unlikely to succeed” is not at all the same as saying they “cannot” succeed; whereas, saying they “can be harmful” is not at all the same as saying they are always harmful. Here is a key quote from the 2009 Task Force Report:

Although the recent studies do not provide valid causal evidence of the efficacy of SOCE or of its harm, some recent studies document that there are people who perceive that they have been harmed through SOCE. [emphasis added]

Even the APA is conceding here that claims of “harm” from SOCE are supported by no more “valid causal evidence” than claims of its efficacy. The statement that some people “perceive” they have been harmed really amounts to a back-handed concession that the evidence of “harm” is primarily anecdotal, not scientific.

More and better research is clearly needed. However, there is actually an abundance of evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that sexual orientation can be changed; the addition of the words “valid causal” represent an effort to discount that fact by raising the bar as to what is accepted as evidence.

In fact, Nicholas A. Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association, wrote in USA Today in 2013, “Of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful,” adding, “…contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality.”

Ironically, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on June 26th, I was at the national conference of the Restored Hope Network—a network of Christian ministries that help individuals to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions—along with dozens of ex-gays whose existence Justice Kennedy seemed to deny. Many people who once had a homosexual sexual orientation—as measured by attractions, behaviors, and identity—have experienced transformation and are already legally married to someone of the opposite sex. Some of these, like Garry and Melissa Ingraham, are now active in helping others change. Others, like former lesbian Chirlane McCray (who is now married to Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City), simply moved beyond “the assumptions I had about the form and package my love would come in.”

Change of sexual orientation can happen in either direction. The Family Research Council’s own amicus brief to the Supreme Court was unique in pointing out the “remarkable (but heretofore unnoticed) fact that dozens of the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage cases that have been brought over the last twenty-four years previously had been married to a person of the opposite sex.” This is proof on its face that either: a) people with a homosexual orientation are capable of marriage to the opposite sex (if we assume that these plaintiffs were homosexual all along); or b) people’s sexual orientation can change during the life course; or both. However, if either assumption (whether a or b) is true, it demolishes the premise of Justice Kennedy’s opinion.

None of this is to suggest that changing one’s sexual orientation is easy. Most people will never try, and of those who do try, some will fail. But some also succeed.  This, and the fact that some people move from homosexual relationships to heterosexual ones—or vice versa—serve as proof that sexual orientation is not “immutable.”

Justice Kennedy’s claim that a homosexual orientation is “immutable” was his bridge from identifying the desire of some people to marry someone of the same sex to identifying a “fundamental right” to do so. The claim, however, is unsubstantiated—making the bridge a shaky one indeed.

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