On his radio show Thursday, conservative commentator Mike Huckabee expressed concern that banning so-called reparative therapy, aimed at converting gay people to straight, would harm people who “decide” to be heterosexual.
Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor who once pursued the Republican presidential nomination, was interviewing Mathew Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel, a right-wing legal group that has brought one of the suits against a California law barring state-licensed counselors from performing reparative therapy, a practice considered ineffective and harmful by most mental health professionals.
“Let’s say a young person comes in and says, ‘You know, I’ve always believed I’m homosexual, believed that since I was 7 years old, but now that I’m 17, I’ve decided that I’m not, I’m heterosexual,’ and goes to a pro-homosexual counselor,” Huckabee said to Staver. “Would that person be at risk?”
Staver said the law does not permit moving a client “towards heterosexuality,” adding, “This law is a political statement; it’s dangerous.” He also worried that it would drive clients to untrained, unlicensed therapists. (Actually, many of the counselors who offer “ex-gay” therapy are not state-licensed.) Staver further put forth the discredited theory that sexual abuse causes a person to be gay.
The California law, which was scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of this year, is on hold while the legal challenges brought by Liberty Counsel and another conservative group, the Pacific Justice Institute, make their way through the courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District heard arguments Wednesday, and legal experts say the cases may take years to resolve. Massachusetts and New Jersey are considering laws similar to California’s.