Incongruence on UK ex-gay website

Last week, a British ex-gay group, Core Issues, hosted an ex-gay conference in Belfast, NI. One of the people involved with Core Issues is Paul Miller, a psychiatrist who was identified in 2008 by NI member of parliament Iris Robinson as a psychiatrist who works with gays to help them go straight.

Now Dr. Miller is facing more scrutiny due to a complaint from journalist who posed as a client and then wrote about the therapy experiences with Miller. The General Medical Council is hearing the complaints. The Independent article is here and Dr. Miller’s work is referenced as “David” in the article and conducts the therapy over Skype.

My intent is not to reflect on Miller’s problems. He is a devotee of Richard Cohen and the UK representative of NARTH. As such his methods and views are predictable. What I want to point out is that the website Core Issues has a link to the Sexual Identity Therapy Framework. I have asked them to remove the link and they have not answered my requests. I want to make it public that the SIT Framework contradicts the rest of the website and is not there by the permission of Dr. Yarhouse or me.

Given the links to NARTH and involvement of Miller, it is hard to understand links to the other resources including ours. Andrew Marin’s book is featured prominently as is Yarhouse’s Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. In the SIT Framework, we specifically mention Richard Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight as an approach which is inconsistent with the framework. Explaining a client’s experience as being a reparative drive is something we discourage as well.

There are two broad paradigms in sexual identity ministry – change and congruence. The change paradigm sees homosexuality as a treatable disorder and encourages the use of therapy and religion to change orientation. The congruence paradigm takes no strong position on what causes homosexuality. Change is not the objective but congruent living with a chosen value position. The website Core-Issues is a collection of references and resources which include both models. They certainly are free to put anything on a website which is public domain but I am also free to point out that the SIT Framework is within the congruence paradigm and inconsistent with most of what was described in the Independent article as well as what seems to be the focus of the Core-Issues organization.

The Days are coming…

After March Madness – which I am looking forward to – the month of the Days will be here. April 15 (or 12th if you listen to the PSA on the website) is set as the Day of Truth with April 16 being the Day of Silence. The boycotters will also be pursuing their mischief. This week, the Illinois Family Institute sent out an email asking for supporters to find out if their local school would be taking part in the Day of Silence. Soon after, Exodus sent out an email promoting the Day of Truth.

In response to the boycott and the Day of Truth, I will again support the Golden Rule Pledge. For more on that, go on over to the Golden Rule Pledge site.  And consider joining the Facebook group supporting the GRP.

Also, this week, fellow blogger, John Shore posted on the GRP. His initial reaction to the GRP was not positive and his readers are giving me some tips.

NARTH: Does the research speak for itself?

Writing in defense of unnamed NARTH leaders, Julie Hamilton recently said on the NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) website:

NARTH will continue its mission as a scientific organization despite the propaganda, and the research will continue to speak for itself.

However, then just across the page, one encounters a “NARTH Research Report” titled, Health Risks: Fisting and other Homosexual Practices. NARTH authors Michelle Cretella and Philip Sutton suggest that gay advocacy group GLSEN is currently teaching high school kids that fisting is safe practice. However, the authors fail to say that the incidents provoking their article happened 9 and 10 years ago. The NARTH article begins by framing the concern over those incidents as being in “recent weeks” but the incidents are old news. I am no fan of GLSEN’s conferences or reading list, but why use old news as a hook?

Furthermore, the article is a clear effort to associate risky practices with gays in a way similar to that being used now by Martin Ssempa in Uganda. However, the title and tone of the article overlooks an important fact – some heterosexuals also engage in those practices. In fact, if you go on and look up the practices referenced in this article, you will find how-to books written for straights (actually just take my word for it). Would a scientific organization claiming to provide science on sexuality overlook such things?

Now after a brief selective review of opinion and some studies, the authors determine that all things gay are harmful and lead to dysfunction. The studies don’t actually say that but most studies do find that homosexuals as a group report more psychiatric problems than straights and that there are risks associated with some sexual practices. However, the scientific train goes off the track with the conclusion.

Conclusion: An adolescent’s desire to prevent or cease experiencing serious medical, psychological, and relational health risks is sufficient reason for him or her to seek and receive competent psychological care to minimize or resolve the desires, behaviors and lifestyles associated with such increased risks.

Translation: If you experience same-sex attraction, better get some reparative therapy quick so you can avoid all the nastiness.

A scientific organization would then offer research the benefit of reparative therapy for mental health outcomes. The claim in the conclusion above is that changing orientation will allow you to avoid the problems NARTH finds with being gay. However, the problem with the claim is that those studies have not been done. To evaluate Cretella and Sutton’s conclusion, one would want to assess the mental health of ex-gays and gays and see who has the best outcomes.* Or one would expect to see large gains in mental health outcomes as the result of the therapy NARTH proposes. Where are the studies?

An author Cretella and Sutton quote is David Fergusson. Last year, Fergusson had this to say about a similar NARTH review of homosexuality and health risks:

While the NARTH statement provides a comprehensive and accurate analysis of the linkages between sexual orientation and mental health, the paper falls far short of demonstrating that homosexuality should be classified as a psychiatric disorder that may be resolved by appropriate therapy. To demonstrate this thesis requires an in depth understanding of the biological and social pathways that explain the linkages between homosexual orientation and mental health. At present we lack that understanding. Furthermore it is potentially misleading to treat what may be a correlate of mental disorder as though it were a disorder in its own right.

Fergusson also told me that studies designed to demonstrate positive changes in mental health via reparative therapy have not been done. In other words, there are no guarantees that changing orientation, if it could be accomplished in the manner suggested by Cretella and Sutton, would alter the mental health differences currently observed between gay and straight groups.

Julie Harren-Hamilton says the scientific research will speak for itself. However, just across the page, we have two authors providing a conclusion without adequate research. Apparently, on the NARTH website, the research needs a little help to speak in advance.

*There was a study which found better mental health outcomes among a sample of gays than an Exodus sample but this has not been replicated to my knowledge. Nottebaum, L. J., Schaeffer, K. W., Rood, J., & Leffler, D. (2000). Sexual orientation—A comparison study. Manuscript submitted for publication. (Available from Kim Schaeffer, Department of Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University, 3900 Lomaland Drive, San Diego, CA 92106).

Another study of some relevance is the study of Exodus participants from Jones and Yarhouse. They found that their entire group of participants experienced enhanced mental health over the study period. Inconvenient for the NARTH claim is that the entire sample, whether gay or ex-gay, experienced improved health from Time 1 to Time 6.

Martin Ssempa defends gay porn presentations

The following news release is Martin Ssempa’s attempt to justify his recent pornography presentations in Uganda (here and here). I received this from Rev. Ssempa’s supporting church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. Canyon Ridge supports the Ssempas as missionaries to Uganda.

On Screening Gay Porn1

You can also view this statement here.

Rev. Ssempa is either unaware or unconcerned that heterosexual people also engage in the practices he is displaying to his audiences. By his logic here, one should seek an Anti-Heterosexuality Bill as well.

It is hard to understand why Hon. Bahati and Rev. Ssempa continue to say that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill only relates to “paedophiles and those who raped the handicapped.” A reading of the bill reveals otherwise.

CPAC in civil war over homosexuality

The Conservative Political Action Conference is meeting now and really went viral today with Ryan Sorba’s rant about homosexuals and natural law. Here is the exchange. Surprising to me, he was booed off the stage.

I want to address this issue further but for now, my observation is that this episode is a data point supporting my contention that conservatives are on civil (ok, uncivil) war over homosexuality. Some want to make demonization of gays a litmus test for being a social conservative and others want to get away from this stance.

Check out this reaction from the conservative blog Hot Air.