WayneNJTruth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen testified today in favor of Assembly Bill 3371 — which would ban quacks from torturing minors with so-called “ex-gay” therapy. The key committee voted 5-0, with one abstention, to move the bill forward. TWO urges Gov. Chris Christie to sign the bill if it eventually reaches his desk.

One of the reasons why the so-called “ex-gays” lost is because they provided virtually no real life “ex-gays.” Well, they did provide one, Greg Quinlan, a lobbyist whose job is to say he’s changed, and Chris Doyle, who gets paid to allegedly convert people. The only person whose livelihood (we think) did not depend on sexual conversion had to be shipped in all the way from California.

Interestingly, Trenton is on the Amtrak corridor and sandwiched in-between Philadelphia and New York City — yet not one so-called “ex-gay” could be found to testify in this heavily populated region. In fact, they were so desperate that they had to ship one in all the way from the West Coast. In the absence of real success stories, Doyle had to compensate by laughably holding up a gigantic, blown up picture of his family that he pathetically waved in front of the committee. With Doyle’s International Healing Foundation (IHF)  not too far away — in Bowie, Maryland — it is telling that he could not find one live, flesh and blood human being to say they had transformed through his services.

Besen also had the rare opportunity to confront Christopher Doyle, Director of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. In a testimony he had written for Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), Doyle had previously said:

“I tried to have sex with the little girls that my mother watched in her daycare, and eventually, one of the girls told her parents what I was doing. The shame that was placed on me by my parents was more than I could bear. Rather than rescue me, teach me, and put me in counseling, the ‘bad boy’ was left alone to deal with all of this shame.”

For whatever reason, Doyle approached Besen at the hearing — and again afterward in the State Assembly cafeteria — which gave Besen the opportunity to ask the “ex-gay” therapist: “How old were the girls you said you tried to molest at your mother’s daycare facility?”

Doyle Hearing

Doyle (pictured right) was cagey and refused to answer the question. His responded by appearing perturbed and claimed that he could not tell me the truth because, “you would use it against me. You would try to harm me.” To which Besen replied, “Yes, I will use that information against you. But, if you did nothing wrong, there will be nothing for me to use. Why can’t you answer a simple question and tell the truth?”

At that point, Doyle became agitated and left the area where food was being served. Truth Wins Out hopes Doyle will eventually come clean — particularly because he has a penchant for working with children. Potential clients should know about Doyle’s past before they send their kids in for his so-called therapy.

The following is Besen’s testimony that he gave at the committee hearing this morning:

My name is Wayne Besen, founder and Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, a national organization that monitors reparative therapy. I am the author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.

I began working on this issue in 1998. This was the year 15 anti-gay organizations launched the $600,000 Truth In Love Campaign. They placed full-page ads in newspapers, such as the New York Times and USA Today, claiming that people could go from gay to straight through prayer and therapy. A Family Research Council activist called the campaign the “Normandy Landing in the larger cultural war.”

Well, it didn’t quite work out as they intended. In September 2000, I photographed John Paulk, who was the poster boy for this campaign, in a Washington, DC gay bar. In April 2013, Mr. Paulk finally acknowledged the harsh reality of so-called “ex-gay” programs. According to Mr. Paulk:

“Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.” 

In 2010, Dr. George Rekers – a board member for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) resigned after the Miami New Times discovered that he took a male escort that he met online to Europe.

These examples are the rule, not the exception. Beyond Ex-Gay is a support group for reparative therapy survivors. It released a survey this month of 400 survivors who claimed that reparative therapy is coercive, manipulative, ineffective, and exploitative. These victims said that such programs rely on reinforcing feelings of self-hatred and shame—and often lead to isolation, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

This is why reparative therapy is rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health association in the nation – such as The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

Reparative therapy creates five classes of victims:

1) The clients:  They are sold false hope and then cruelly blamed when the expensive treatment doesn’t work – and it never does. I have personally seen the pain, the tears, and destruction caused by these so-called therapists.

2) Parents: Families are unnecessarily divided because parents are callously blamed for causing a child’s homosexuality. Of course, this is junk science. To quote renowned Michigan State University neuroscientist Marc Breedlove, “Scientists have looked at …family conditions and the probability that a boy will grow up to be gay. And, the answer is none, you can’t find it.”

3) Spouses: The silent victims are the spouses who marry gay men and women whose therapists promise they will become heterosexuals. This often creates double lives, and broken families. Reparative therapy advocates love to show you the wedding photos, but never the divorce papers that come later.

4) Science: Those opposing this bill are relying on obsolete data that has no relationship to modern science. According to Dr. Eric Vilain, M.D a Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics at UCLA:

 “I don’t know of published scientists who come out and say there is no evidence for any biological influence on sexual orientation.”

Which, might explain why the so-called “experts” opposing this bill are mostly unaccomplished and unpublished.

Furthermore, since reparative therapists don’t conduct real studies like legitimate researchers – they rely on distorting the work of genuine scientists. For example, University of Utah researcher Dr. Lisa Diamond accused NARTH’s Joseph Nicolosi of an “illegitimate” and “willful distortion” of her studies on human sexuality.

Then, of course, there are the bizarre techniques. The International Healing Foundation’s Christopher Doyle believes cuddling with clients and slamming a tennis racket into a pillow while screaming a parent’s name is legitimate therapy.

5) Truth: Let’s drop the pretense that we are debating a legitimate form of therapy. By design, the goal of so-called reparative therapy is to deviously hijack medical language to stigmatize LGBT people for ideological reasons. The practice deliberately confuses science with stereotypes, and portrays gay individuals as unstable and mentally ill.

The bias is easy to see, if you want to. For instance, New Jersey Family Policy Council activist, Greg Quinlan, refers to LGBT individuals as “flaming faggots.” And, NARTH Board Member, Gerard van den Aardweg, claims, “I will argue that homosexual feelings spring from a special type of inferiority complex.”

Are these the messages that New Jersey wants to send LGBT youth?

Finally, a study by San Francisco State’s Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that LGBT teens that experienced negative feedback from their family after they came out were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times more vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs than their non-LGBT counterparts.

Clearly, taking a child to an anti-gay therapist to try to change the fundamental nature of who they are can reasonably be construed as the very “negative feedback” that can lead to self-destructive behaviors.

Let’s take a stand today and protect our youth from predatory charlatans who are peddling junk science at the expense of New Jersey families.

TWO thanks Garden State Equality for organizing today’s hearing and commends them for doing a terrific job on this issue. We also thank Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D) for introducing the bill and for his leadership on bringing justice for reparative therapy survivors.