Excellent editorial from West Virginia newspaper:

Former Republican presidential frontrunner Michele Bachmann and her husband run a fundamentalist clinic that attempts to make gays heterosexual through prayer. It’s one of many such evangelical therapy operations around America.

But the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association both say such treatment is worthless: It can’t change the intrinsic nature of homosexuals, and can harm people by instilling a sense of failure and depression, even sometimes leading to suicide.

Currently in California, this faith-healing is causing a stir. State Sen. Ted Lieu wants to ban gay “conversion therapy,” even if patients ask psychologists for it. His bill is based on an assumption that the treatment is quackery.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times Dr. James Guay wrote:

“I was a gay teenager in a deeply fundamentalist Christian household, desperate to escape what I was taught was the shame and sin of my sexual orientation. A psychotherapist promised me and my parents that he could make me straight if I tried hard enough. I latched onto that hope, envisioning a new life in which I could be saved by God and accepted by my family. But that hope turned to despair — deep despair that lasted for years — when I realized I could not change who I was. My experience deepened my depression, shame and feelings of isolation, rejection and failure.”

Dr. Guay finally regained self-respect by becoming a therapist himself, specializing in helping gays, especially those who “went through conversion therapy when they were minors … eager to do anything they could to please their parents and win their love, no matter the pain.” Some deceive themselves into entering marriages that really aren’t workable.

He urged Californians to support Sen. Lieu’s plan to outlaw sex-change cures. Meanwhile, evangelical talk-show host Janet Parshall said Satan caused the senator to introduce his bill.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Wayne Besen said so-called conversion therapy “is a destructive form of consumer fraud. … There is not one shard of evidence supporting such efforts, while there is a long trail of blood and tears from the human casualties who bought into the lie that they were abnormal and needed to be converted into heterosexuals.” He said the practitioners are “trafficking in junk science.”

We don’t know whether California’s legislature will ban conversion therapy — or whether such a ban could survive a court challenge by fundamentalist groups. Further, the best researchers cannot explain why a small percentage of people are homosexual.

Many straights are baffled by homosexuality. They can’t understand it. And when you can’t understand something, it’s absurd to try to “cure” it. Leave gays alone, and let them pursue healthy, fulfilling lives like anyone else.