By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
August 8, 2019
Last Friday, August 2, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order which bans the use of state and federal funds for “conversion therapy” to minors.
The order states, “[I]t is the policy of the Office of the Governor and DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services] to ensure that state and federal funds that are allocated to DHHS and earmarked for medical and mental health care are not used to provide services that have been rejected as ineffective and unsafe by respected medical and mental health professional organizations. State and federal funds allocated to DHHS are used only for effective therapeutic services that are supported by credible evidence and medical experts.”
The order further states, “DHHS is hereby directed to take appropriate steps to expressly disallow payment of DHHS allocated state and federal funds for conversion therapy for individual patients under eighteen (18) years of age. Such funds include but are not limited to those earmarked for medical and mental health care by North Carolina Medicaid or North Carolina Health Choice.”
The present and general understanding of “conversion therapy” is not a positive one. It’s described by most today as a debunked form of therapy that seeks to change something that allegedly can’t be changed – someone’s gender identity to their biological sex or their sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. Conversion therapy allegedly poses serious health risks for LGBTQ youth.
“Conversion therapy” and “reparative therapy” are terms that have been used interchangeably. A new name meant to shed many of the unjustified negative imperceptions and seeks to provide better insight into the goals of helping people with unwanted same-sex attractions is “re-integrative therapy.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said that he was “incensed at the governor’s order.”
“I’m incensed at the governor’s order because despite that there have been abuses by some therapists, which by the way is common for every kind of practice, there are some amazing people who are in this field. When done by licensed professionals who have had considerable training in gender and sexuality issues – people of faith who reject the new standard that homosexuality is something genetic – professionals who know that the studies on this are inconclusive – people who haven’t been propagandized by gay activism – are really providing tremendous hope, healing, and even deliverance for many young people and adults. I realize to say something like this makes some froth at the mouth, but it’s true. People can and do change,” said Creech.
John Rustin, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council said Cooper’s order was clearly “government-mandated viewpoint discrimination.”
Eighteen states have banned conversion or reparative therapy. In a November 2018 op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Dr. Jospeh Nicolosi Jr., son of Joseph Nicolosi, who has been called the father of conversion therapy, said such bans are “unethical” by denying people the therapy of their choice.
“I fully agree with banning harmful, so-called ‘treatment’ methods such as shock therapy. That is a clinically appropriate goal, and I’d happily work with anyone at any time to ban such methods. However, it is an ideological and not a medical choice to render it illegal for people to explore heterosexuality with the help of a licensed professional. It puts the government squarely at odds with the express wishes of those same-sex attracted persons who believe homosexuality does not represent who they really are,” said Nicolosi, Jr.
Nicolosi, Jr. added that under such bans he could treat a heterosexual person with a pornography addiction without government interference. But if a gay person came to him with the same addiction, he would be forced to turn such people away because their attractions happen to be homosexual.
Pickup v. Brown was a lawsuit in 2012 that challenged the constitutionality of California legislation, SB 1172. That legislation banned conversion therapy on children under 18 years old.
A district court judge declined to issue an injunction blocking the measure, but a judge hearing a similar case, Welch v. Brown, did. Both cases were appealed to the Ninth Circuit federal court and were consolidated. The federal court upheld the new law and reversed the injunction. Plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the High Court refused to grant review, making the law legit.
In an interview by renowned Christian psychologists Dr. James Dobson, on the radio broadcast, Family Talk, David Pickup of Pickup v. Brown lamented that as a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, he had to turn away minors, assisted by their parents, who were genuinely seeking help. He said such bans violate “free speech, client rights, and parental rights.”
Cooper’s executive order doesn’t ban reparative therapy, but it declares that state and federal monies can’t be allocated for reimbursing medical and mental health professionals who would use it to help minors.
Creech says that although the application of the governor’s executive order is limited, that shouldn’t provide much solace.
“I think we might rightly assume that if Democrats were to gain control of the NC House and Senate in 2020 and Cooper were to win re-election, we could expect legislation to ban reparative therapy for minors and adults in the Tar Heel State,” said Creech. “Then what? Will they ban the Bible next because it condemns same-sex relationships and the apostle Paul speaks of ex-gays in his first letter to the church of Corinth? There is no hyperbole here. Cooper has shown his hand. He’s no centrist, but a pure leftist. He’s also broken his most fundamental promise to make North Carolina ‘work for everyone.’ North Carolina needs another governor with values closer to this state and not like those of California.”