Zack Ford at Think Progress writes:

A California Senate committee today advanced SB 1172, a bill that would help protect citizens from harmful, ineffective ex-gay therapy. The law does not outright ban all ex-gay therapy, but it does prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from undergoing sexual orientation change efforts. It also requires that any prospective patient sign an informed consent form.

Incredibly, one of the witnesses at today’s hearing speaking on behalf of NARTH actually had the gall to quote the disavowed Robert Spitzer study. (Talk about incompetence!

Here is some background on NARTH for those fighting the bill:

Here are 13 Key Facts to know about NARTH:

1) Dr. George Rekers is on NARTH’s Board of Directors. He is the author of numerous books including, “Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Identity” and “Growing Up Straight: What Every Family Should Know About Homosexuality.” A major anti-gay figure that used to work at University of South Carolina, Rekers is also a founder of the Family Research Council and testified as an expert witness in favor of gay adoption bans in both Arkansas and Florida.

quacksOn May 5, 2010, Miami New Times reporters Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp discovered that he had vacationed with a male escort in Europe that he had met on When the anti-gay doctor and his hooker arrived at Miami International Airport, reporters photographed them with a little pink camera. Confronted with the evidence, Rekers said he learned that his companion was a prostitute only midway through their vacation.

“I had surgery,” Rekers told the New Times, “and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”

2) Arthur Abba Goldberg was a prominent member of NARTH’s Board of Directors. He is also the co-founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH). On February 15, 2010, a Truth Wins Out (TWO) and South Florida Gay News (SFGN) investigation revealed that Goldberg was a Wall Street criminal mastermind who was convicted in 1987 of “fraud of spectacular scope”. Goldberg was sentenced to 18 months in jail for bilking poor communities with complicated bond schemes and served six months in prison. Upon completing his parole, he secretly reinvented himself as a moral leader who “cures” gay and lesbian people. As a result of this investigation, Goldberg was removed from NARTH’s Board of Directors in March 2010.

3) In 2006, Gerald Schoenwolf, PhD, also a member of NARTH’ “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a polemic on the group’ website that seemed to justify slavery: “With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America,” wrote Schoenwolf. “It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman.”

4) In 2006, NARTH psychiatrist Joseph Berger, MD, a member of its “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a paper encouraging students to “ridicule” gender variant children. “I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex–but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings,” Dr. Berger wrote on NARTH’ website. “On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”

5) NARTH associates with known extremists. At one NARTH convention, Richard Cohen served as a therapy trainer. Cohen once belonged to a cult that practiced nude therapy and was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2003 for malpractice. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a NARTH therapist, has written that Prozac may cure gayness. Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, has been a frequent contributor to NARTH’ website. Lively’ book, “The Pink Swastika” blames the holocaust on gay people. NARTH therapist Christopher Austin, who taught seminars for NARTH, was convicted for sexually abusing his clients.

6) NARTH habitually distorts research. In 2008, Dr. Lisa Diamond, University of Utah, publicly rebuked NARTH in a Truth Wins Out YouTube video. Diamond claimed that Dr. Nicolosi deliberately twisted her work for political gain. NARTH also uses outdated studies from up to 100 years ago and repackages these invalid studies as new.

7) NARTH recommends “treating” males as young as three years old, referring to them as “pre-homosexual boys.” In our view, this is consumer fraud since parents are unlikely to see results, despite expensive therapy sessions. We also believe forcing children to undergo traumatic, shame inducing “therapy” is child abuse that may cause lasting psychological scars.

8) Reparative therapy is not considered a legitimate and accepted form of psychological care. It is soundly rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization in America. The American Psychological Association says attempts to change sexual orientation can cause, “anxiety, depression and self destructive behavior. In August 2009, the American Psychological Association produced a landmark report that said, there was “no evidence” that ex-gay therapy was effective, and many cases it was linked to harm. There are survivor organizations to help the victims of such therapy, as well as support groups for spouses who married a gay partner who could not change sexual orientations.

9) The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is a discredited “ex-gay” fringe organization that peddles fraudulent “cures” for homosexuality. Sadly, a lucrative market still exists for anti-gay stereotypes disguised as science and the greedy ideologue “therapists” eager to profit from unnecessary pain. They take advantage of vulnerable people who want to “fit in” and exploit suffering families who are desperate to believe they can cure a loved one.

10) NARTH believes that heterosexuality is quite malleable. The group’ founder, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, claims that if a straight male suffers “defeat or failure” he could become vulnerable to homosexuality.

11) NARTH is not a secular organization, as it often claims. For many years, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi served as a spokesperson for the far right Christian organization Focus on the Family. On CNN’ 360 Degrees with Anderson Cooper, (April 14, 2007), Nicolosi said, “We, as citizens, need to articulate God’ intent for human sexuality.” At the Feb. 10, 2007 Love Won Out conference in Phoenix, the “secular” therapist told the audience, “When we live our God-given integrity and our human dignity, there is no space for sex with a guy.”

12) Upon co-founding NARTH, its co-founder, Dr. Charles Socarides, who has a gay son that once served as President Bill Clinton’ gay liaison, told The Washington Post, “Homosexuality is a psychological and psychiatric disorder, there is no question about it. It is a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society.”

13) NARTH’s co-founder, Joesph Nicolosi encourages male clients to become more masculine by drinking Gatorade and referring to friends as “dude”. NARTH therapists have been known to practice rubber band therapy, where a gay client is made to wear a rubber band and snap it on his wrist when sexually stimulated. It is a mild form of aversion therapy meant to “snap” the client out of the moment of attraction. NARTH members have also been known to practice “touch therapy”, where a client sits in the therapist’ lap for up to an hour, while the therapist caresses him.