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Health care company reappoints antigay therapist to advisory board

Health care company reappoints antigay therapist to advisory board

Magellan Health Services, one of the nation's largest health care companies, has reappointed an antigay therapist who advocates reparative mental health treatment to "cure" gays of homosexuality to its National Professional Advisory Council under pressure to do so from antigay, right-wing groups, the Web news site RawstoryQ reports. Gay activists and mental health advocates worry that the therapist's antigay views will influence the company's positions on mental health services for gay and lesbian clients or lead it to begin to encourage member health care plans to pay for reparative therapy programs for gay members. In March, Magellan announced that Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D., would not be reappointed to the advisory board out of concern that his views were potentially controversial and could distract from the work of the panel, according to company spokeswoman Erin Somers. Throckmorton, a counselor and psychology professor at Grove City College, a Christian school in Pennsylvania, had created and publicized a film called I Do Exist, which features five people who say they were once gay and now consider themselves straight after having undergone the kind of reparative therapy Throckmorton endorses. But RawstoryQ reports that Magellan was under heavy pressure from the Illinois Family Institute, an antigay group that fights against gay rights issues and opposes same-sex marriage, and its director, Peter LaBarbera, to reverse its decision to remove Throckmorton from the advisory board and reappoint the therapist. Antigay group Concerned Women for America and "ex-gay" poster boy Stephen Bennett also were involved in the campaign to pressure Magellan, according to e-mails obtained by RawstoryQ. In one such e-mail from Throckmorton to LaBarbera, Bennett, and Concerned Women for America's Robert Knight, the therapist said of the planned campaign against Magellan that "the blood is in the water." LaBarbera confirmed the contents of the e-mail and told RawstoryQ that the groups were involved in the effort to pressure Magellan to reappoint Throckmorton because he was under attack from gay activists. Kathleen DeBold, executive director of the Mautner Project, a national lesbian health care organization, told RawstoryQ she was extremely disappointed that Magellan bowed to right-wing pressure and reappointed Throckmorton to its advisory board. "In our work with lesbian women and teens in crisis, we have seen first-hand the pain and destruction that these [reparative] therapies often result in," she told the Web site. "Throckmorton is not a doctor but a demagogue," Wayne Besen, author of Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, told RawstoryQ. "Dr. Throckmorton's work is laced with outdated, disproved myths and stereotypes disguised as science in support of a right-wing political agenda. If anyone doubts the political motivations of Dr. Throckmorton's work, they need look no further than his inner circle of confidantes." Besen says he hopes Magellan will meet with him and "ex-ex-gays" to discuss the psychological damage that can result from the reparative therapy approaches Throckmorton advocates and to ensure that the company's advisory board is gay-inclusive. Magellan spokeswoman Somers told RawstoryQ she didn't know if there were any gay or lesbian members on the advisory board but that she believes there is adequate representation of viewpoints on the board to counter Throckmorton's positions.

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