One of the most extreme religious-right groups in Texas is rushing to defend the state Republican Party for adopting a platform last week that supports discredited “reparative therapy,” which seeks to convert or “cure” gay people.

Medical experts and professional associations have condemned “reparative therapy” as abusive quackery that seriously endangers the mental health and physical well-being of those who suffer through it. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, notes that this “therapy” is not supported by scientific evidence and actually harms people:

“The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.

Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the… Read More

During public testimony before the Houston City Council on Tuesday, religious-right activists and spokespeople railed against the proposed Equal Rights Ordinance. The ordinance would protect Houstonians — regardless of race, gender, religion, military status and a long list of other characteristics — from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. But religious-right activists focused their opposition almost exclusively on nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

They denounced the LGBT community as “evil” while at the same time insisting that LGBT people don’t really face discrimination. And they bizarrely complained that the ordinance would discriminate against them if they couldn’t discriminate against people they don’t like. Many identified themselves as Christians and declared that the ordinance would limit their religious freedom — but churches are exempt and, in any case, we don’t recall Jesus turning away gay folks when he fed the multitudes.

But the most common themes in the attacks on the ordinance remain sex and fear. Opponents have suggested over and over that transgender “predators” will be stalking little girls in public restrooms if the City Council passes the ordinance. Some religious-right groups even call the ordinance the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” Texas Values, lobby arm of the religious-right group Liberty Institute, builds on that theme by calling the ordinance “a threat to public safety.”

Texas Values also… Read More

As our society slowly moves toward treating LGBT people with the dignity and equality all human beings deserve, the reaction of religious-right groups has been almost unhinged. Their leaders have adopted increasingly vitriolic and hateful rhetoric in their desperate attempts to defend discrimination. That fact has been on clear display as the Houston City Council’s Committee on Quality of Life prepared to hold a public hearing today (Wednesday, April 30) on a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance.

The Equal Rights Ordinance, proposed by Mayor Annise Parker, would bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, race, religion, military status and other characteristics. The measure includes exemptions for religious organizations (like churches), private clubs and organizations, and small businesses.

The proposed ordinance is so mainstream that the Greater Houston Partnership — a major regional business group that promotes economic development in the region — has endorsed it. From the Partnership’s website:

“The Partnership believes that Houston is already a great city that is welcoming and embraces diversity. Adopting the ordinance now is essentially a reaffirmation of who we are and what we believe: that all Houstonians should be able to live, work and enjoy our great city.”… Read More

Religious-right activists are predictably outraged that LGBT students at Texas A&M will celebrate their spring graduation at a special campus event today (April 16). The university’s GLBT Resource Center is sponsoring the banquet, dubbed Lavender Graduation, this evening. Phyllis Frye, an A&M alum and the state’s first transgender judge, will be the featured speaker. (Frye’s appointment in 2010 as a municipal judge in Houston also sparked predictable outrage from religious-righters. They always seem to be mad about something.)

Students won’t receive their diplomas at the Lavender Graduation event. The university’s official commencement ceremony is in May. Lavender Graduation is simply a celebration, much like those hosted by other student organizations and academic departments at Texas A&M and on other campuses around the country. But anti-gay activists are attacking it anyway.

One News Now, the propaganda website for American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as an anti-gay hate group), quotes one of the most obnoxious voices of hate in Texas in a story about the event:

Regardless of the motive, Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, says this is foolhardy.

“This special Texas A&M ceremony essentially promotes and celebrates dangerous… Read More

Even as Republicans who voted for the anti-gay discrimination bill in Arizona now admit they made a serious mistake, some religious-right activists are doubling down in their hate campaign. In fact, some just seem downright obsessed about gay people. Case in point: Jonathan Saenz at Texas Values, the lobby arm of Plano-based Liberty Institute.

At times Saenz’s Twitter feed appears to be almost a constant stream of posts about LGBT people, from his defense of discredited “research” about gay parenting to support of government-sanctioned discrimination. On Tuesday, for example, Saenz let loose with a long stream of posts about his frustration with critics of the Arizona bill. The bill would allow any person or entity — including businesses and nonprofit organizations — to offer their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people.

Some of Saenz’s tweets sound almost unhinged from reality. And many seem designed to frighten people into believing things that are simply not true. He inaccurately claims, for example, that churches could be forced to perform same-sex marriages if Arizona’s governor vetoes the bill:

He absurdly insists that businesses opposing government-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people also oppose religious freedom:

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