Mormonvoices Calls on California to Reject Same-Sex Attraction Therapy Law

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Law would harm individuals by blocking access to beneficial therapies

"Therapy designed to eliminate same-sex sexual activity helps me keep my commitment to my wife. No legislature should be able to second-guess and disapprove my choice and the help I need."

MormonVoices calls on the California legislature to halt consideration of SB 1172, and urges elected officials to carefully study the problems the bill is likely to cause as written. If the bill cannot be corrected, it should not be passed.

SB 1172's supporters aim to ban so-called "sexual orientation change efforts" for same-sex attracted individuals. This is broadly defined as "psychotherapy aimed at altering the sexual or romantic desires, attractions, or conduct of a person toward people of the same sex so that the desire, attraction, or conduct is eliminated or reduced or might instead be directed toward people of a different sex." The bill's sponsors intend to protect individuals against harmful procedures, but this bill will also reduce access to appropriate and important therapies. The American Psychological Association recommends that those who desire to reduce or eliminate homosexual conduct be able to undergo therapy to help them do so, including if their desire stems from religious conviction.

There are many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as other faiths and traditions, who are same-sex attracted. Because of their personal choice to live according to religious standards, they depend upon therapy to help regulate their conduct. "I didn't experience any negative side effects from the therapy," said Joshua Johanson, a member of the LDS church and activist for same-sex attracted individuals. "It is key in helping me to live the lifestyle that I've freely chosen. Therapy designed to eliminate same-sex sexual activity helps me keep my commitment to my wife. No legislature should be able to second-guess and disapprove my choice and the help I need."

Scott Gordon, a Managing Director of MormonVoices, recognizes that the proposed bill is not an outright ban. "The problem here," Gordon observed, "is that this proposed micro-managing of the therapist-client relationship would have a chilling effect on therapists' willingness to provide these helpful services. Having to get written consent from the patient exposes providers to legal risk if something goes wrong, and so fewer providers will offer this therapy. Cutting vulnerable individuals off from the help they need or desire to support their choices is wrong."

John Lynch, another MormonVoices Managing Director, agreed. "There's a clear difference between therapies that have been shown to be harmful by shaming individuals for their innate tendencies, and beneficial therapies that acknowledge individual traits and help people to live the lives they choose. SB 1172 doesn't distinguish between the two, and so jeopardizes the access and well-being of individuals who need that help."

"I appreciate the desire to protect same-sex attracted individuals from therapies that they don't know could harm them," continued Joshua Johanson. "But this proposed law will do more harm than good. I, and many others that I know similar to me, need to be able to access the help that we and competent professionals have deemed right for us."

MormonVoices is an independent organization that is supportive of, but not controlled by or affiliated with, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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