Texas GOP Embraces Gay Conversation Therapy, Shrugs Off Basic Human Decency

Oh, no: A new draft of the Texas GOP's party's platform embraces gay conversion "therapy." Before this draft, the Texas GOP's platform had still been derogatory, claiming that "homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family." Should they proceed with the language in the early draft, acquired by the Houston Chronicle, it'll instead hail "the legitimacy and value" of "reparative therapy."

Gay conversion therapy is exactly what it sounds like: a pseudo-mental health program which attempts to take gay people and gradually "turn" them straight. It generally advances a set of claims about the origin of homosexual attractions — usually relating them to a problematic relationship with a person's opposite-sex parent — there's no end to the list of problems with the program. And, obviously, the mainstream scientific consensus is that gay conversion therapy doesn't work.

Back in 2009, the American Psychiatric Association adopted a resolution stating that, in addition to a complete lack of evidence supporting its efficacy, gay conversion therapy can be a source of depression and suicide attempts. This is especially chilling given that such programs, often filled with young people whose parents have balked at their sexual orientation, might feel depressed already. While Texas Republicans may not mind this, not everyone in the party agrees — in 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a statewide ban on gay conversion therapy.

And the philosophies that undercut gay conversion therapy can be leveraged for even harsher, darker means. Maybe the starkest example of this is Uganda, where radical anti-gay activists used the scientifically-dubious content of a gay conversion book, by therapist Richard Cohen, to make the case for sweepingly cruel new anti-gay legislation. Cohen, for the record, was literally expelled from the American Counseling Association.

Their efforts were ultimately successful — with the law signed in 2014, gay Ugandans are now subject to possible life imprisonment. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow took Cohen to task over this issue back in 2009.

In short, the Texas GOP is thinking about replacing a dramatically blunt anti-gay proclamation in their platform with one which, while still overt, is coated in the veneer of psychology. We can only hope that the victims of gay conversion therapy — of which there are many — will have their voices heard.