In Defense of Elder Hafen: Brief Response to FMH

Elder Hafen recently gave (at an Evergreen conference) what I consider to be a wonderful speech concerning same-sex attraction and gay marriage. It is linked on the LDS Newsroom. This speech is probably the most well-balanced and well-informed article on same-sex marriage by an LDS general authority.

Then, to my dismay, I came across this post at FMH, in which ECS criticizes Hafen’s speech, in particular his use of references. But the FMH post itself is misleading and needs to be critiqued.

First, ECS critiques that Hafen cites a paraphrase from a Wall Street Journal article about the recent APA resolution on reparative therapy, rather than the resolution itself. Here is the quote in question, followed by ECS’s reply:

Just last month the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.  But in what the Wall Street Journal called “a striking departure” from that Association’s earlier hesitation about encouraging such therapy, the same resolution also stated that “it is ethical—and can be beneficial—for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions,” especially clients with a strong religious identity.

It’s a bit strange that Hafen quotes a paraphrase of the resolution written by WSJ reporter instead of quoting the A.P.A. resolution itself.  I read the APA’s report, and I tried to find this quote.  It didn’t appear in the official APA Resolutions or anywhere in the APA report.   Then I noticed that the WSJ article doesn’t say the quoted language is an APA resolution.  The WSJ article doesn’t say anything about a resolution – yet Hafen claims that the paraphrased language written by a WSJ reporter  (that is not a resolution) is a resolution sanctioned by the A.P.A.  More importantly, the WSJ paraphrase of a non-Resolution does not accurately characterize any A.P.A. Resolutions.

My counters:

1. People often quote paraphrases for rhetorical reasons. The in-text citation and footnote are both correct, at any rate, making it clear that this quote comes from the WSJ article.

2. The WSJ article DOES talk about a resolution! In fact, the very quote ECS provides from the article does:

But in a striking departure, the American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.

What is “said” here is the resolution! The fact that Hafen knows this, but apparently ECS does not, shows who has done more research on the matter. In fact, ECS’s comments betray how little she knows about what happened at the APA meeting last month. At any rate, it is false to say that “The WSJ article doesn’t say anything about a resolution.” Ooh, kind of weakens ECS’s argument, doesn’t it? Yes.

3. The WSJ paraphrase DOES accurately characterize the APA resolution. It quotes the chair (note, this is the person in charge) of the resolution explaining the need for this kind of middle-ground with religious groups.

“We’re not trying to encourage people to become ‘ex-gay,'” said Judith Glassgold, who chaired the APA’s task force on the issue. “But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.” . . . “They’re faced with a terrible dilemma,” Dr. Glassgold said. The profession has to offer alternatives, she says, “so they don’t pursue these ineffective therapies” promising change.

I don’t have time to defend this claim like I would like to, but I do think that Hafen’s quote is consistent with the spirit of the resolution–and the quote above speaks to that. Interesting that ECS says nothing about any of this.

Second, ECS asserts that Hafen calls homosexuality a disorder. But he does no such thing. He simply criticizes the motivations in declassifying it in the 1970s. Not quite the same thing as calling it a disorder (e.g., maybe it never should have been called a disorder, but nonetheless its being removed as one was more a matter of political motivations than anything–not an irrelevant point even if it one wouldn’t call it a disorder). It is simply inaccurate to say that he called it a disorder because he did no such thing. In the interest of accurate reporting, ECS would be wise to avoid the very things she is criticizing.

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76 Responses

  1. Bruce Hafen stated:, and as you quoted: “Just last month the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed. ”

    The Wall Street Journal says exactly the opposite.
    “The counselor must advise clients that gay men and women can lead happy and healthy lives, and emphasize that there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.”

    Let me repeat: “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation.” All the therapist can do is “help him construct an identity that rejects the power of those attractions.”

    The purpose of the APA resolution is to “offer alternatives”, “‘so they don’t pursue these ineffective therapies’ promising change.” Big difference.

  2. djinn,

    I fail to see how the two statements (one from Hafen and the other from WSJ) are “exactly the opposite.”

    Hafen says “insufficient” instead of “no” and adds the qualifier “conclusively” (in which cases Hafen is slightly more accurate, technically speaking), but aren’t the two saying more or less the same thing? Certainly they are not opposites!

  3. “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation” means exactly the opposite of “There is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.” Bruce Hafen is talking about how sexual orientation *can* be changed; he quotes a therapist stating “that 40% of his clients find full heterosexual resolution, another 40% achieve enough resolution to control their attraction and behavior, and 20% are unsuccessful.”

    Are you going to tell me with a straight face that a 40% success rate (as quoted by Hafen) equals “there is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation” as the APA representative stated?

    40% does not equal 0%.

    Good luck with that.

  4. djinn,

    Sorry, I must be pretty dense because I don’t get it. Let’s just stick with your first claim without resorting to a slippery slope argument.

    You say “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation” means exactly the opposite of “There is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.”

    What? Please explain how these are exact opposites.

  5. No slippery slope argument at all. What are you talking about? Hafen explicitly quotes someone who states that 40% of gay people can become straight and 40% more can “achieve enough resolution to control their attraction and behavior.”

    His whole talk is about how being Gay is a choice that can be overcome. Duh. That’s the whole point of Evergreen. This is not a difficult point to understand. The APA resolution states that being gay is not a choice and cannot be changed. However, one’s attitude about one’s gayness can be modified. Biiiig difference.

  6. djinn,

    Again, let’s go back to that claim of yours, and then we can proceed with the rest. I’ll ask once again:

    You say “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation” means exactly the opposite of “There is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.”

    What? Please explain how these are exact opposites. You should be able to do this on strictly logical grounds, without even referring to other things in Hafen’s article.

  7. As one who is not directly involved in this semantic argument, let me say that, from my point of view, “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation” and “There is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed” are semantically equivalent statements. Happy I could help. :)

  8. This is silly. Your defense of Hafen’s pretend APA quote is that it was done for rhetorical reasons. That is, when you state “People often quote paraphrases for rhetorical reasons” the inferred meaning can only be that Hafen quoted a paraphrase and then didn’t quite make that clear. But it’s OK. Because it’s for rhetorical reasons.

    Now, you are holding the quote to some sort of isolated-from-context philosophy-test level of rhetorical clarity. Double standard, much?

  9. djinn,

    I’m going no further with you until you address my question that I’ve raised twice now.

  10. Thanks JDD. Still trying to sort out djinn means on this.

  11. Anybody know if there are pictures of the busloads of men that showed up at the APA conference like Elder Hafen mentioned? That would be pretty amazing to see.

  12. I could see it this way:

    “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation” = Sexual orientation is unchangeable. We’ve tried and it doesn’t work.

    and

    “There is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.” = Sexual orientation might be changeable, but we can’t prove it yet. We haven’t found something that works for sure, but we’re still looking.

    Kind of like: “There’s no magic pill to make you lose weight” versus “There might be a magic pill to make you lose weight, but we can’t seem to find one.”

    Or, to propose a more LDS-related analogy: “There are no Native Americans with Israelite DNA” versus “We haven’t found any DNA evidence of Lamanites, but that doesn’t mean that special DNA is completely absent.”

    The second one certainly sends a signal that a hoped-for cure is yet to be discovered, while the first one suggests there’s no point in looking further.

  13. I have to agree with djinn that these are opposites if you look at the core.

    “There is no evidence” ergo evidence IS NOT.

    “There is insufficient evidence” ergo there IS evidence, just not enough to satistfy my opponents.

    IS NOT is the opposite IS, even with a qualifier.

  14. Dennis, I’ve declined to respond to your comments challenging Elder Hafen’s discussion of homosexuality as a psychological disorder, but this Salt Lake Tribune article provides a good summary of Elder Hafen’s misrepresentation of the APA removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders here:

    “[Elder Hafen] attacked the APA’s decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, deeming it politically motivated.

    “In the early 1970s, the public and most lawyers, doctors and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder,” he said. “We have witnessed primarily an aggressive political movement more than we’ve witnessed substantive change in the medical or legal evidence.”

    Lisa Diamond, a psychology professor and researcher at the University of Utah, in an interview with The Tribune , called Hafen’s assertion “hilarious” and “absolutely untrue.”

    Homosexuality had been listed as a disorder, Diamond said, without any real scientific data. The APA reversed course after a pioneering psychologist,
    Evelyn Hooker, produced research to show there was no difference between the mental health of straight and gay individuals, she said.

    “That moment really did represent, in fact, the triumph of science over prejudice,” Diamond said.”

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_13377659

  15. ECS,

    Thanks for the link. It’s interesting to me what is considered “newsworthy” and what is not, as far as the Tribune is concerned. The article is a very poor summary of Hafen’s speech, and fails to highlight some things that might be considered more “moderate” or even relatively progressive in terms of LDS discourse on homosexuality. Oh well.

    From my research, the issue of excluding homosexuality from the DSM was very controversial at the time. There was considerable disagreement among people of good faith about what the evidence really was saying. I don’t think that Hafen was saying that there was absolutely no scientific evidence that could be martialed to remove homosexuality as a disorder. Rather, he was saying that the motivations were primarily political.

    Psychiatric and psychological diagnostic categories are never simply a matter of what science says. They are always situated within a greater cultural and political fabric about what is considered to be normal. I think that Hafen is giving a much broader sweeping critique of the liberal individualistic assumptions that undergird what mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists would even see as deviant or normal in the first place.

    At any rate, for Diamond to infer that the removal of homosexuality was the merely transparent workings of pure science is ridiculous. Were it not for very strong political pressure it never would have happened. Politics almost always precedes scientific justifications.

    Moreover, I think it is laughable that Diamond, of all people, says that the denial of a gay gene is a smokescreen for those who promote sexual orientation change. Diamond’s research is probably the strongest research in suggesting that there is NOT a gay gene, at least for women, and she has written widely on this. Gay advocates like Diamond are realizing that the “born that way” argument has little if any scientific basis, but apparently anyone who disagrees with them politically can’t also make this point. If you’re a progressive gay advocate who (in hushed tones and circumspectly) talks about there being no gay gene, then it’s OK — but if you’re one of those conservative bigots, then you have no right to proclaim publicly this fact! The hypocrisy!

  16. newbie,

    I disagree with your analysis, as I think you are reading too much into what is being said. Forgive me for being a logical stickler, but I’m trying to look at things objectively here.

    When you say

    “There is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.” = Sexual orientation might be changeable, but we can’t prove it yet. We haven’t found something that works for sure, but we’re still looking.

    the biggest problem is your “yet.” No “yet” is implied at all in the statement in question. It is simply a statement about insufficient evidence.

    Moreover, it is incorrect to say “[T]here is no evidence therapy can change sexual orientation”

    means that the evidence is conclusive. Science is never conclusive, for one thing. Moreover, the APA policy is not trying to ban future research on sexual orientation change therapies. There could always be a new kind of therapy, markedly different from others, that is very effective.

    So the two statements are saying more or less the same thing, although slightly different semantics.

  17. Your points are well taken, but please read Elder Hafen’s words here. He says that the APA removed homosexuality as a psychological disorder “not because of any change in actual medical findings”.

    This directly contradicts your assertion that:

    “I don’t think that Hafen was saying that there was absolutely no scientific evidence that could be martialed to remove homosexuality as a disorder. Rather, he was saying that the motivations were primarily political.”

    If you were listening to Elder Hafen’s talk, you would have understood him to say that although medical findings had not changed from the early 1970s when
    “the public and most lawyers, doctors, and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder,” the APA removed homosexuality from its list of psychological disorders under pressure from political activists.

    This is what Elder Hafen said:

    “In 1973, in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations removed homosexuality from their official lists of disorders. Significantly, they took this action by simply putting the issue to an open vote in their professional meetings–not because of any change in actual medical findings”

  18. ECS,

    I see what you’re saying, and I stand corrected on my one claim.

    It might not be terribly convincing, but one could argue that Hafen’s statement is not denying medical findings, but rather is arguing that the BASIS of the disorder was democratic rather than scientific. Still, this is an oversimplification and is perhaps misleading. My major point against your post, though, on these matters, is simply that it is not correct to say that Hafen said homosexuality IS a disorder. Even if a case can be made that he is inferring this.

    The reality of these situations is that both sides of the spectrum oversimplify. Yes, Hafen’s claim is not accurate, but neither is Diamond’s. I’m actually quite moderate in terms of these issues, and so these kinds of things frustrate me. The extremities of one side’s assertions lead to ever more stubborn and extreme claims from the other. And I think this is important to keep in mind when talking about the motivations of those who are trying, as Hafen is, to make strides in the debate. And likewise for others.

    And I suppose this is what upset me the most about the FMH post — but far more so, the resulting commentary. In spite of some problems of the talk, this talk is probably the most moderate and arguably progressive talk from a general authority on the issue. But you would never know that from your post, nor from a quick look at the comments. Why is not the overall talk the headline, rather than quibbling over sources?

    Likewise for the Trib piece. It’s so funny because Hafen is not at all saying that if you try hard enough you can change. In fact, he’s saying — probably more than any general authority has said before — that you might NOT change, no matter what you do. I see his statement about waking on resurrected morning as provocative not because of the orientation change (which, of course, has always been implied in LDS discourse on the topic) but by the statement that MAYBE before then, rather than DEFINITELY, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO, before then. The focus was more on the inevitable ULTIMATE change through Christ (reminiscent of Ty Mansfield’s book), which is a stark contrast from the contrasting assertions of Byrd, Robinson, and others, concerning a relatively QUICK change through therapy and utilizing the Atonement.

    But nobody cares to talk about any of this — they prefer to make guffaws at the silly out of touch bigot.

  19. “And I suppose this is what upset me the most about the FMH post — but far more so, the resulting commentary. In spite of some problems of the talk, this talk is probably the most moderate and arguably progressive talk from a general authority on the issue.”

    Dennis, I agree with this statement. The post was not written to upset you or to “make guffaws” at Elder Hafen.

    I think you’re right that Elder Hafen’s talk was moderate compared to talks by other LDS leaders. Although Elder Hafen was trying to be helpful and loving towards homosexuals in this talk, he (unwittingly or not) perpetuates dangerous stereotypes when he states that there was no medical evidence to remove homosexuality from the APA’s list of psychological disorders. His statement is a clear misrepresentation of the facts and it infers that homosexuality would still be classified as a psychological disorder but for the inappropriate pressure brought to bear on the APA by political activists.

    I can’t overlook this grave mistake (and his lesser mistake incorrectly citing to the WSJ), even though Elder Hafen may have had the best intentions overall.

  20. His statement is a clear misrepresentation of the facts and it infers that homosexuality would still be classified as a psychological disorder but for the inappropriate pressure brought to bear on the APA by political activists.

    I see what you’re saying here, but I wonder if you’re overestimating how misrepresenting such a statement is. For the moment, let’s lay aside the word “inappropriate”:

    Homosexuality would still be classified as a psychological disorder but for the pressure brought to bear on the APA by political activists.

    I don’t think this amended claim is very controversial at all. It is widely recognized, within psychiatry and psychology, that normative categories of mental illness are complex and cannot be isolated from the politics of what is normal. Science almost always follows (rather than precedes) activism.

    Consider, for example, that transvestic fetishism is still a mental disorder category–without any clear reason why, other than it is difficult for some individuals to deal with. Well, so is homosexuality. Why hasn’t the APA simply said that the problem (with transvestic fetishism) is due to society, not the individual, then? In fact, this blame on society could arguably be made, at least in theory, to just about any disorder. Biological basis (or the lack thereof) doesn’t solve this problem. Even if someone is born with depression, for example, it is still seen as a disorder. The reality is that many of these things DO come down to values. Science (alone) cannot say what is and is not normal without committing the naturalistic fallacy (is = ought). So, it’s a mistake to think that simple scientific evidence was the reason for homosexuality being removed. Without the right shift in values occurring (which I think is Hafen’s predominant point), the disorder never would have been removed. Likewise, without the right shift in values, it never would have been considered a mental disorder in the first place. “Deviant” or “normal” is not imprinted on people’s palms.

    I’m honestly not being a extremist on these matters–these problems are widely recognized. Many, if not most, psychological practitioners loathe the entire DSM.

    So the question comes down to whether the activism is “inappropriate.” And the answer to this question is not resolved by some scientific studies.

  21. Citations and semantic nuance!

    A mote in his eye!

    A mote in his eye!

    Off with his head!

  22. I largely agree with ujlapana; however I do not think that “there is no evidence” is the direct opposite of “insufficient evidence.” But I do think they mean quite different things:

    1. There is no evidence the earth is flat

    is not essentially the same thing as

    2. There is insufficient evidence that the earth is flat.

    The second admits that there is some evidence (e.g., the earth looks flat to me) that the earth is flat, but the evidence is insufficient. The first admits no evidence whatsover.

    The APA , right or wrong, apparently admits no evidence on changing orientation. Elder Hafen’s paraphrase suggest that the APA does. On that point the two are inconsistent.

  23. Hi DavidH,

    I see what you’re saying. The problem, though, is that when scientists say “no evidence,” this often really means “insufficient evidence.” (In fact, you’d typically hear claims of “no evidence” only casually — scientists are much more careful to hedge their claims in journals. I doubt you would see a–verbatim–“no evidence” charge in a peer-review journal about sexual orientation change therapies.) I think everyone acknowledges that there is SOME evidence, in that there are individuals and therapists who claim to have changed their sexual orientation as a result of therapy, and these claims bear out, albeit very minimally, in many studies. So “no” does not really mean “no.” In this way, Hafen’s “insufficient” is actually more accurate — though I wouldn’t make a big deal out of this, as I think the other quote really means the same thing.

  24. So I spent some time this evening and read the APA report. The Wall Street Journal summary that Hafen quotes is actually misleading, as far as I can tell. The report encourages therapists to use culturally and religiously sensitive approaches to therapy in order to offer very religious gay and lesbian people therapeutic options that are better than the snake oil/magical thinking/hocus that people like Evergreen International are foisting on their unfortunate victims. But it absolutely does not say, anywhere that I can find, that councilors should help clients reject same-sex attraction. Here’s the pull-quote from the abstract:

    Thus, the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic interventions for those who seek SOCE involves therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients and the facilitation of clients’ active coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome.

    In terms of affirmative recommendations, here’s the kind of therapeutic practice that’s endorsed:

    …an affirmative approach is supportive of clients’ identity development without an a priori treatment goal concerning how clients identify or live out their sexual orientation or spiritual beliefs. This type of therapy can provide a safe space where the different aspects of the evolving self can be acknowledged, explored, and respected and potentially rewoven into a more coherent sense of self that feels authentic to the client, and it can be helpful to those who accept, reject, or are ambivalent about their same-sex attractions.

    I hope it’s easy to see how this is very different from a call for therapists to “help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.” Hafen may well not have quoted this with the intention to deceive, but that’s nonetheless the effect.

  25. Dennis, why can’t my articles ever attract this much attention/controversy? ;)

    Anyways, thanks for the post!

  26. Dennis, on the homosexuality/mental illness front, the basic problem for people who think this was not evidence-based is that there are studies which show that, in the general population, homosexual and heterosexual people are roughly equally happy, equally likely to have depression, equally likely to be drug addicts, equally likely to have body image problems, … There are some discrepancies between homosexual and heterosexual people in mental health outcomes, but these are largely found in subcultures that regard homosexuality as morally deficient. Thus, for example, Mormon gay and lesbian people have high suicide rates — but as I understand it the same isn’t true for American gay and lesbian people in general.

    This kind of pattern suggests that the problem is one of fit between a category of people and a subculture, not one of mental illness; it just doesn’t meet the basic definition if the trait in question is only associated with negative outcomes when combined with specific relatively narrow subcultures.

  27. J> I’m interested in your assertion that suicide rates appear to be higher for homosexuals only where there is some religious factor or ill-fit with the religious culture. I believe that is your own unsupported conclusion of the data. However, this is a topic that I am quite interested in. Would you mind sharing with me the basis of your conclusion?

  28. To those who quibbled with me about the difference between “no evidence” and “insufficient evidence”:

    Check out this headline from an APA press release: INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT SEXUAL ORIENTATION CHANGE EFFORTS WORK, SAYS APA

    http://www.apa.org/releases/therapeutic.html

  29. JNS:

    Now we’re getting somewhere in this little debate. Thanks for your comments.

    Just have time for the first one right now.

    You are correct that the report does not “call for” nor directly say that “councilors should help clients reject same-sex attraction.” However, neither does the WSJ article — it simply says that it is not unethical to, in some circumstances and for certain clients, help clients reject same-sex attraction.

    Now, this point is not the dominant point of the APA report, to be sure. And one that, minus the WSJ, received very little press.

    Like I said, I wanted to defend this point better than I did in the OP. I’ve gone back to the report and discovered the (unfortunately long) passage that is most relevant (pp. 60-62). Because it’s a bit bulky otherwise, I removed all of the parenthetical references. I’ve also bolded what I consider to be key parts relevant to this debate:

    An affirmative approach is supportive of clients’ identity development without an a priori treatment goal for how clients identify or live out their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation identity exploration can be helpful for those who eventually accept or reject their same-sex sexual attractions; the treatment does not differ, although the outcome does. For instance, the existing research indicates that possible outcomes of sexual orientation identity exploration for those distressed by their sexual orientation may be:

    • LGB identities
    • Heterosexual sexual orientation identity
    • Disidentifying from LGB identities (e.g., ex-gay)
    • Not specifying an identity

    The research literature indicates that there are variations in how individuals express their sexual orientation and label their identities based on ethnicity, culture, age and generation, gender, nationality, acculturation, and religion. Some authors have provided analyses of identity that take into account diversity in sexual identity development and ethnic identity formation, religious identity, as well as combinations of religious and sexual orientation identities.

    In some of the literature on SOCE, religious beliefs and identity are presented as fixed, whereas sexual orientation is considered changeable. Given that there is a likelihood that some individuals will change religious affiliations during their lifetime and that many scholars have found that both religious identity and sexual orientation identity evolve, it is important for LMHP [licensed mental health practitioners] to explore the development of religious identity and sexual orientation identity. Some authors hypothesize that developmental awareness or stage of religious or sexual orientation identity may play a role in identity outcomes. Other authors have described a developmental process that includes periods of crisis, mourning, reevaluation, identity deconstruction, and growth. Others have found that individuals disidentify or reject LGB identities. Thus, LMHP seeking to take an affirmative attitude recognize that individuals will define sexual orientation identities in a variety of ways.

    Some religious individuals may wish to resolve the tension between values and sexual orientation by choosing celibacy (sexual abstinence), which in some faiths, but not all, may be a virtuous path. We found limited empirical research on the mental health consequences of that course of action. Some clinical articles and surveys of individuals indicate that some may find such a life fulfilling; however, there are others who cannot achieve such a goal and might struggle with depression and loneliness. In a similar way, acting on same-sex sexual attractions may not be fulfilling solutions for others.

    Licensed mental health providers may approach such a situation by neither rejecting nor promoting celibacy but attempting to understand how this outcome is part of the process of exploration, sexual self-awareness, and understanding of core values and goals. The therapeutic process could entail exploration of what drives this goal for clients (assessing cultural, family, personal context and issues, sexual self-stigma), the possible short and long-term consequences/rewards, and impacts on mental health while providing education about sexual health and exploring how a client will cope with the losses and gains of this decision.

    On the basis of the aforementioned analyses, we adopted a perspective that recognizes the following:

    • The important functional aspects of identity.
    • The multiplicity inherent in experience and identity, including age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status.
    • The influence of social context and the environment on identity.
    • That aspects of multiple identities are dynamic and can be in conflict.
    Identities can be explored, experienced, or integrated without privileging or surrendering one or another at any age.

    Approaches based on models of biculturalism and pluralistic models of identity, including combining models of ethnic, sexual orientation, and religious identity that help individuals develop all aspects of self simultaneously or some sequentially, can encourage identity development and synthesis rather than identity conflict, foreclosure, or compartmentalization.

    Sexual orientation identity exploration can help clients create a valued personal and social identity that provides self-esteem, belonging, meaning, direction, and future purpose, including the redefining of religious beliefs, identity, and motivations and the redefining of sexual values, norms, and behaviors. We encourage LMHP to support clients in determining their own (a) goals for their identity process; (b) behavioral expression of sexual orientation; (c) public and private social roles; (d) gender role, identity, and expression; (e) sex and gender of partner; and (f) form of relationship(s).

    So, coming back to the quote in question:

    But in a striking departure, the American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.

    If it were me, I would have worded the last part “for counselors to support some clients in their rejection of gay or lesbian attractions.”

    Still, I don’t think the original WSJ quote is inaccurate. Inasmuch as counselors are to “support clients in determining their own goals, behavioral expression, etc.,” it goes without saying that, if the client wants, this would entail “helping” clients–at least some clients–in their decision to reject gay or lesbian attractions.

    This position is not at all surprising, actually; it is completely consistent with a previous statement put out by the APA, in the context of sexual orientation identity, about the “client’s right to self-determination.”

    So, although the APA has kept this on the “down-low” (which they always do about these sorts of things, while trumpeting the more liberally PC stuff), this position is quite significant. It is acknowledging that “sexual orientation identity” (including pretty much all that this entails in terms of behavior, identity, etc.) is negotiable depending on the client’s context and preferences. The fact that task force leaders are making statements in the WSJ article about this sort of thing is evidence that the WSJ article — and Hafen — are pretty much “right on” concerning the implication of the policy.

    Whew. Now let’s have a discussion!!

  30. Blake, it’s impressionistic, to be sure, but not just idiosyncratic. I don’t do research in this field. But the reasoning that I’ve seen goes like this:

    1) Suicide and depression rates for gay/lesbian folks are clearly higher in the US and some other countries than for hetero folks.

    2) Studies that control for education, region, and religiosity generally find insignificant differences. Studies that include a gay/religiosity interaction find the interaction significant but the main effect not.

    3) You make the inference.

    Dennis, I’ve got to disagree with your reading. There’s a world of difference between “helping some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions” and something like “working with clients in an open-ended process that doesn’t set the goal of helping them reject attractions, or any other specific goal, but instead helps them find an integrated identity that they feel comfortable with, without defining that identity until it is reached.” It’s in some ways parallel to the difference between a coach and a league executive in sports; the coach sets a strategy and urges you to get there, while the league executive provides a safe environment and set of rules in which the game takes place but doesn’t cheer for either team.

    Hafen can’t really be found blameless here, in any case, as the WSJ article and the APA piece both explicitly state that there is no evidence that therapy can help people stop being gay or lesbian. Yet the organization he was speaking to talks, in its mission statement, about people making a “transition from homosexuality.” There’s clear incompatibility here.

  31. JNS,

    Concerning your second comment, I’d need to see a little more data before I could even respond. In particular, I’m interested in the data NOT NOW but for the time homosexuality was removed in the 1970s (which seems to be the relevant time in question). After all, homosexuality was extremely stigmatized leading up to that time virtually everywhere in the U.S.

  32. Specifically, Dennis, when you say:

    Inasmuch as counselors are to “support clients in determining their own goals, behavioral expression, etc.,” it goes without saying that, if the client wants, this would entail “helping” clients–at least some clients–in their decision to reject gay or lesbian attractions.

    I think this is slippery. It depends a great deal on what you mean by “helping.” This seems to suggest that the therapist will propose tools, strategies, and treatments that reduce homosexual desire. I think that reading can be definitively ruled out — that’s certainly not what the APA document has in mind. If instead, helping is taken to mean providing a non-judgmental environment where people can talk about their goals, their ideas, the suffering and hardship they experience, and explore how different aspects of their identity fit together, then that seems more like what’s involved. But the latter model would obviously be one in which, if a particular client decided to stop resisting homosexual attractions, the therapist would be as supportive as she had been earlier — and, indeed, in exactly the same ways.

  33. Why are we holding the APA as the end-all be-all of creation? I doubt they would have much harsh to say about consenual premarital sex. They might even recommend it to some of our singles as a way of getting rid of stress in a dedicated relationship. In the very least, they would emphasize we should not feel stress from giving into our urges, as long as no law was broken.

    Now, if we don’t take their advice there, why are we hanging on their every word here?

    Can we hold to their advice about gays without also holding to their advice concerning hetero sex?

  34. JNS,

    I think you have some good points. Still, I do think the therapists helping thing really is largely semantic. Like I said, I would have said it differently. Still, if Hafen is off, he’s only barely off. Certainly not way off or completing distorting the APA policy (as people have claimed). I don’t think those claims are defensible, if this really comes down to a semantic question over the meaning of “help.”

    Yet the organization he was speaking to talks, in its mission statement, about people making a “transition from homosexuality.” There’s clear incompatibility here.

    I’m sorry, but this strikes me as grasping at straws. Speaking at an organization does not imply agreement with its mission statement. Moreover, Hafen’s talk reveals many nuances that can’t be reduced to “you can change your sexual orientation if you really try.” Those who think so need to re-read the address, and with just a little bit of charitable understanding. In addition, I highly doubt that everyone at Evergreen feels the exact same way about these things (but I admit that I don’t really know).

    If instead, helping is taken to mean providing a non-judgmental environment where people can talk about their goals, their ideas, the suffering and hardship they experience, and explore how different aspects of their identity fit together, then that seems more like what’s involved. But the latter model would obviously be one in which, if a particular client decided to stop resisting homosexual attractions, the therapist would be as supportive as she had been earlier — and, indeed, in exactly the same ways.

    I think I’m in basic agreement here. The therapist doesn’t begin with, “Let me help you change your sexual orientation!” Rather, the therapist works with the client in an affirmative framework concerning the client’s OWN goals. This isn’t to say that the therapist can’t challenge some of those goals in some way, but this must be done in a way that is culturally and religiously sensitive (among other things). The point is, though, that if a client does not want to identify as gay or lesbian, and if they “reject” their attractions (meaning, I think, they don’t act on them), then the therapist also needs to be affirming of this as well. Certainly, this affirmation can easily be construed as “helping” the client in maintaining this rejection of their attractions. Just because certain kinds of “helping” would be clearly inappropriate does not mean “helping” is not going on! Which, like I’ve said, is consistent with the WSJ article and Hafen’s speech.

    By the way, thanks for this exchange. Your comments and pushback have been, by far, the most helpful of others who disagree with me.

  35. Zen,

    I disagree with LOTS and LOTS and LOTS (and did I say LOTS?) of APA’s policies and positions — including many troublesome assumptions behind the policy we are discussing.

    But my disagreement is not the point. Much of this discussion centers around the question of what the policy is and is not saying. So that’s why we’ve been getting into the nuts and bolts. Moreover, regardless of what you think of it, this policy is important in that it will shape therapies and later discussions concerning homosexuality and change.

    In addition, I think it’s important to note that, considering where many psychologists have stood in the past on this issue (i.e., any religion that rejects homosexuality should be rejected, regardless of what the client thinks), that this policy is, in some respects, a step in the right direction. Sadly, you won’t hear about this (positive) aspect of the policy from the APA. It will turn off too much of their radically left-wing constituency.

  36. Thanks to JNS for helpfully providing more context to the APA policy and Elder Hafen’s speech.

    In my view, Elder Hafen used the WSJ quote to show that even the left-wing, anti-religion APA is finally recognizing that it is “beneficial” to reject sexual attractions. Hafen says that the APA has departed from its original “hesitation” about “encouraging such therapy”. What is the “such” therapy Hafen is talking about here?

    In his previous sentence, Hafen says the APA has recognized that there is insufficient evidence “to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed”. So, the therapy Hafen says the APA is “encouraging” is therapy to change sexual orientation (which they were previously hesitant to “encourage”). No matter from which angle you read the APA policy and resolution, there is no reasonable way to interpret the APA’s “new” position as “encouraging” therapy to change sexual orientation.

  37. Dennis, I agree that Elder Hafen deserves credit for recognizing that not everyone who wants to change their sexual orientation will succeed in doing so. Recognizing that reparative therapy doesn’t always work is a huge step forward.

    But after this, Elder Hafen says: “The client’s level of commitment to the treatment process is probably the most significant variable in successful outcomes.” This implies that men and women who want to change their sexual orientation will succeed, but less committed clients won’t. Placing so much emphasis on individual effort (“the most significant variable”) creates an inference that if you are unsuccessful in your efforts to change your sexual orientation, you aren’t sufficiently committed to transforming yourself into a heterosexual.

  38. ECS,

    So, the therapy Hafen says the APA is “encouraging” is therapy to change sexual orientation (which they were previously hesitant to “encourage”). No matter from which angle you read the APA policy and resolution, there is no reasonable way to interpret the APA’s “new” position as “encouraging” therapy to change sexual orientation.

    I disagree with your train of logic here. The “such therapy” phrase is admittedly a little vague, but it can only clearly refer, as an introductory referent, to what comes later in the sentence — only later is therapy mentioned; the previous sentence is not connected to therapy at all (simply whether sexual orientation can change). And here he is correct; this really is a pretty stark change for APA (which is why they’ve kept it on the DL).

    But after this, Elder Hafen says: “The client’s level of commitment to the treatment process is probably the most significant variable in successful outcomes.” This implies that men and women who want to change their sexual orientation will succeed, but less committed clients won’t. Placing so much emphasis on individual effort (”the most significant variable”) creates an inference that if you are unsuccessful in your efforts to change your sexual orientation, you aren’t sufficiently committed to transforming yourself into a heterosexual.

    Well, you’re insisting for “success” to mean “change sexual orientation.” But Hafen’s not doing that. He explicitly said “success” can mean many things. Also, concerning the emphasis on individual effort, clients can be less committed to a treatment process because the process is no good, because the therapist is lousy, etc. Lack of commitment is not always a measure of individual will or effort — as every therapist is well aware of.

    Still, the inference you’re worried about is still likely to be made by many. So your point is well taken — still, I think he made it quite clear that many (presumably committed) clients are successful in some degree — without at all implying, I don’t think, some kind of promise for changing your sexual orientation if only you try.

  39. I don’t want to get too far into things here, but I wanted to respond to Dennis’s comment on September 22 at 8:17 AM.

    Dennis…your argument seems to be that the move to delist homosexuality as a disorder was political, which implies that *including* homosexuality as a disorder in the DSM was somehow not political.

    What Lisa Diamond wrote (I suppose on behalf of the DSM) alluded to was that actually, the original listing of homosexuality in the DSM was poltiical. It was cultural, rather than scientific. So removing homosexuality from the DSM was correcting what never should have been in there in the first place.

    Even Hafen’s comments are particularly indicting regarding the subject:

    In the early 1970s, the public and most lawyers, doctors and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder

    So, in other words, he doesn’t bring science to the table. Rather, he brings the cultural and political baggage of a more socially conservative era that was only beginning to get through a sexual revolution.

    Really, we are facing two different cultural perspectives. Are we to believe that the traditional culture was “right” and the progressive culture from 1960s through the present was “wrong”? Or are we to believe the opposite? Who knows?

    What I can say is that what we saw and what we have seen since is that apparently and empirically, being gay is not a disorder. Rather, what is disorderly is when gay men and women try to mold themselves to traditional views and roles in society that do not fit them. Apparently, gays and lesbians who pursue relationships safely are not different in material respects in terms of happiness, rates of mental illness, and so on. Gays and lesbians who, for whatever reason, view their sexuality as sinful, broken, something to be eliminated are a different story.

    (You actually allude to this further: the “disorder” in transvestic fetishism do not relate to the individual, but to the individual’s situation in a society that is critical against his or her fetish. I would argue, however, that with depression, there is disorder regardless of the individual. The individual — on his own — can recognize that he is impaired. And this is the meaningful difference. Not the values of the society at large. What the social sciences do in particular is they tease out inherent discomfort, disease, and disorder [deep, clinical depression that sends you halting down is disorderly to the individual on an intrinsic level] from societal value differences [homosexuality only is disorderly in a society that views it as such. It is not intrinsic to the homosexuality, but variable to the perception, reaction, and stigma of such]).

    In summarizing Diamond’s position, I think you miss the point of it. When Diamond writes about sexual fluidity (which, I might add, is research primarily focused on women…so at best, if you want to use this research to hurt any cause, then perhaps it should be to hurt the cause of biological egalitarianism [as opposed to biological complementarianism]), she is not saying that one can consciously choose sexuality if he or she does x, y, z. Rather, there are biological and environmental factors, most of which are poorly understood or even recognized, but ALSO most of which are unchosen and unchoosable. Even in the fluid, person-based sexuality that Diamond’s research proposes (rather than sex-based sexuality), the individual doesn’t choose which people she falls in love with.

    The argument is: “It is not chosen.” NOT NECESSARILY “Born that way.” Whether from birth (just one option) or from pubertal development or from genes or gene expression or hormones or neurology or whatever other cause, the argument is that sexuality is not chosen and cannot be chosen. That there is no evidence of a gene that always switches homosexuality either on or off does NOT say that there is no genetic impact or that homosexuality is chosen — and this is Diamond’s point.

    You say Diamond’s position taken is laughable in light of her research. I disagree: precisely because of the research Diamond has conducted, her position regarding smoke screens is relevant and appropriate. Focusing on a gay gene *is* a smoke screen and red herring, because instead, we should be recognizing that regardless of its origin an inception (whether genetic, hormonal, neurological, etc., etc., etc.,), repeatedly, we find that sexuality is not consciously chosen and data does not suggest that it is consciously changed through choice. So, there is no hypocrisy in her argument because she’s not saying anything contradictory or hypocritical. Gay gene or not, the evidence does show that sexuality is unchosen and there is insufficient evidence to show that conscious action can change it. The fluid people she writes about do not *choose* to fall in love with the other person.

  40. I apologize for my excessively long comment, btw.

  41. Andrew,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    Your argument seems to be that the move to delist homosexuality as a disorder was political, which implies that *including* homosexuality as a disorder in the DSM was somehow not political.

    You’re reading too much into things. Having it as a disorder in the first place was definitely political, at least if political is defined rather broadly to include that the decision carried with it sociological background assumptions concerning the normality and merit of homosexuality.

    Really, we are facing two different cultural perspectives. Are we to believe that the traditional culture was “right” and the progressive culture from 1960s through the present was “wrong”? Or are we to believe the opposite? Who knows?

    Although a bit oversimplified, this comment I think is leaning in the right direction. I just want to emphasize that, in terms of “who knows?” the answer is not “Science.” Science cannot make normative decisions about the good life. It can reveal only what “is” (and even then in a very reductive form that doesn’t clearly map onto human experience) not what “ought” to be. We must move beyond the political vs. scientific dichotomy if we are to make headway in these conversations. Diagnostic criteria are always, inextricably, wound up in the political.

    This is the case even with something like depression. The trouble is our society is so individualistic that we don’t recognize this. Certainly the values of society at large make an enormous difference in terms of depression. What about the value of seeking for individual happiness? This is not a universal value, and even if it were, it would still be a value. Viktor Frankl argued that depression is all the worst in the U.S. because (compared to Europe) you are damned too-fold: you are not happy and you are supposed to be happy. Whereas in Europe you’re merely not happy. Moreover, some people have had serious depression that they would not term as pathological, but rather as a meaningful way of being in the world. I’m not necessarily condoning these views, I’m simply saying that they’re out there. And a medical-model based view of mental illness (i.e., symptom reduction in relation to discomfort) is not going to resolve these issues.

    In fact, the way you talk about the social sciences is completely anti-social. The social sciences do not tease out variables that exist in pure space somewhere. There is no such thing as being homosexual in a vacuum. And even if there were, it would not be even remotely similar to being homosexual in the real world, whether it’s a more accepting or stigmatizing one.

    More on Diamond’s research in the next comment.

  42. re Dennis:

    Although a bit oversimplified, this comment I think is leaning in the right direction. I just want to emphasize that, in terms of “who knows?” the answer is not “Science.” Science cannot make normative decisions about the good life. It can reveal only what “is” (and even then in a very reductive form that doesn’t clearly map onto human experience) not what “ought” to be. We must move beyond the political vs. scientific dichotomy if we are to make headway in these conversations. Diagnostic criteria are always, inextricably, wound up in the political.

    I agree (we actually are pretty close on this track). But what I’d suggest is that I think that individuals *can* make the decision about the good life. So, the thing is…when we ask the homosexuals, we find that they intuit what is the good life for them. Gay people don’t intrinsically find homosexuality to be disorderly. It *feels* like the right thing. Rather, the reaction and stigmatization from society can wreak havoc for gays and lesbians — and especially gays and lesbians in the church are raised with expectations that are unrealistic and unattainable.

    So, the question is this: should the APA (which I guess is the representative of science) err in stigmatizing along with society, or should they not stigmatize, knowing that the former causes problems, but the latter does not? The political/scientific distinction here is a bit of a red herring for the real question: was what the APA did helpful? To gays and lesbian integrity, security, and wellbeing, it most certainly was. And there wasn’t a tremendous societal tradeoff (other than the erosion of “traditional” views).

    Let me say something about depression. Depression isn’t mere unhappiness. Depression is emptiness. Depression is losing motivation for life itself. Depression isn’t feeling blue — it is not feeling anything — not even enough to even feel blue. Depression is a grinding halt to aspirations and dreams, or even to basic daily functioning if it gets bad enough. THAT is the inherent disorder of depression. And that does not change whether you are in America or in Europe or in Asia or any other kind of society — and it never looks “better” based on different societal values.

    I do ACKNOWLEDGE that these kinds of conditions (including depression) can be compounded or relieved by the social background. So I’m sorry you think my view of the social sciences is completely anti-social…in my first comment, I noted that there is intrinsic disorderliness and disorderliness from the social interplay. I simply chose to focus on the intrinsic disorderliness, because this is where many conditions differ. Of course I know that there is no such thing as a homosexual in a vacuum — that is why I FEEL for my gay brethren in the church, because they certainly don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, they are pincered in a double bind…with comments from general authorities like Elder Hafen being inadequate for their homosexuality…but also with comments from the rest of the world being inadequate for their Mormonness. Truly, truly, I understand that. But I simply want to point out that this isn’t about homosexuality itself. It is about homosexuality in the interplay of sociality. The distinction is important because one of these we can consciously work on changing…and the other one of these we can’t (or rather, we don’t have sufficient evidence to believe we can).

    I await your comments on Diamond’s research.

  43. Andrew,

    Concerning Diamond’s research, I agree with you that she concludes (albeit rather weakly and tentatively) that sexual fluidity is not chosen. But where does this conclusion come from? It comes from the self-reports of women saying that they do not feel like they chose to change. (I should add, also, that some women did report that they chose to change.)

    So this claim of biological and environmental determinants is rather sloppy. Moreover, individual agency is already assumed to be out of the question for most psychological research anyway. With nature vs. nurture, it’s always something else controlling you. In fact, it’s funny how someone’s claim of individual agency would not hold much water with a social scientist, but conveniently, their claims of being determined are somehow proof of being so. The logic here is fallacious.

    The reality is that Diamond’s research can say NOTHING about the individual agency of sexual fluidity. It simply says that many women do change and that most of them don’t feel like it was in their control. That’s all. In fact, Diamond’s making a point about the fluidity being determined appears to be more motivated by political concerns than anything in her data.

    Moreover, to even suggest that someone has their SPECIFIC sexual fluid patterns from birth (“not necessarily born that way”) is ludicrous. Surely it’s not coincidence that many women changed after taking a course in the psychology of gender or women’s studies, or having a lesbian friend or roommate, or simply forming a close friendship with a certain person (of either gender). Diamond can say what she’d like about whether people had a choice in the matter, but she can’t say that some women might CHOOSE to avoid these encounters and thereby have a lower chance of changing their sexual orientation.

    The fact is that the gay rights movement has been fueled on the “born that way” bandwagon, or, more moderately, the “I can’t change” bandwagon. Diamond’s research challenges both, regardless of choice. People can change, even if they don’t choose to, and this is kind of a big deal! Change does not equal choice.

    Diamond herself recognizes the possible political implications of her research. She recognizes that the “born that way” argument has been crucial for the gay rights movement. That’s why you don’t see her, or anyone else, making a big deal out of these implications of this research. They want to keep things on the DL.

    Of course, none of this is to negate genetic aspects of homosexuality. I don’t think anyone doubts this; certainly Hafen’s comments don’t deny this at all.

    Diamond is hypocritical because if she were honest about her research, she would be shouting up and down, “There is no gay gene!” But she doesn’t do this because of the political fallout, and then she gets upset when others do it. Certainly, right-wingers can make a point out of their being no gay gene without being called a “smokescreen” for sexual orientation change. Diamond should take issue with their views on the orientation change, not call them out for announcing the unwelcoming news (which she herself agrees with) that there is no gay gene. In fact, it’s entirely convenient that people who read her comment probably think that she thinks there is a gay gene, which she clearly does not. Politics is everywhere.

  44. Re: Dennis on Diamond’s Research:

    The reality is that Diamond’s research can say NOTHING about the individual agency of sexual fluidity. It simply says that many women do change and that most of them don’t feel like it was in their control. That’s all

    If the bold is true (assuming these women know what they feel and what they don’t feel), then is it not similarly relevant? Control is precisely in perception and feeling…so if we can’t establish *feeling* of control, then this is meaningful.

    To use another example, let’s say we were talking about spiritual experiences. Some skeptics argue that spiritual experiences are conjured by the mind. Through certain activities (brainwashing) that you may choose or may be subject to through your environment, you can be more or less susceptible to conjuring up these experiences.

    But what faithful believers would want to argue (I hope) is that, no, their spiritual experiences came from the Lord. They were not engineered. They could not have just come up with it on their own. They don’t feel like it was in their control.

    I see what you’re saying that their feeling doesn’t establish anything on the actual inception of the experience (and the role of agency), but we generally give the person with the experience the benefit of the doubt that their perception that it was not from them but from something else is reliable.

    Moreover, to even suggest that someone has their SPECIFIC sexual fluid patterns from birth (”not necessarily born that way”) is ludicrous. Surely it’s not coincidence that many women changed after taking a course in the psychology of gender or women’s studies, or having a lesbian friend or roommate, or simply forming a close friendship with a certain person (of either gender). Diamond can say what she’d like about whether people had a choice in the matter, but she can’t say that some women might CHOOSE to avoid these encounters and thereby have a lower chance of changing their sexual orientation.

    I may not be as well read on this, but nothing I’ve seen suggests that someone has their specific sexual fluid patterns from birth. Again, I’m not (and I don’t believe that most people are) arguing “from birth.”

    The latter part (some women might CHOOSE to avoid these encounters) reminds me again of the idea of spiritual experiences. (Sorry for the involved analogy). So, if someone hasn’t had a spiritual experience for the church, they are encouraged to read their scriptures, pray, fast, attend regular meetings and so forth. If they do these things, they *should* have a greater chance of having a spiritual experience and moving from secular/nonbelieving to believing.

    The problem is that even if there are certain circumstances we THINK leads to such a switch — we cannot identify them reliably. You have tried to identify what you think leads to the orientation change, but really, yours are just guesses as much as anyone’s. Similarly, we don’t have a formula for manufacturing a true testimony. Some people get them. Others don’t. Some people do x, some people do y. We don’t have anything conclusive to suggest that any consciously chosen action can reliably, repeatably, and predictably grant someone a spiritual experience and testimony. Similarly, we don’t have anything conclusive to suggest that any consciously chosen action can reliably, repeatably, and predictable make someone attracted to another. So, again, with fluidity, we come to the realization that it isn’t chosen, or even if it is, we don’t have the perception of choice, so choice is inaccessible and shadowed out.

    The fact is that the gay rights movement has been fueled on the “born that way” bandwagon, or, more moderately, the “I can’t change” bandwagon. Diamond’s research challenges both, regardless of choice. People can change, even if they don’t choose to, and this is kind of a big deal! Change does not equal choice.

    I feel this is a misapplication of Diamond’s research and conclusions. If people can change, but not through choice, then this doesn’t give any working option. Really, the fact that change does not equal choice is exactly the big deal: because it is what makes conversion therapy movements deceptive and ineffective…because it doesn’t matter if someone can change (this is another thing that people use as smokescreen)…rather, what matters (and what conversion therapy movements would like to advertise) is that someone can change as a result of a choice — as a result of x therapy, y contact with people of the same gender, z contact with people of the opposite gender, stir for xx years, sprinkle fairy dust, etc.,

    But that doesn’t happen. This is exactly why Diamond points out the smoke screen. Because really: the goal is this: can someone consciously choose to change? It isn’t “Can someone change (unconsciously and with no reliable method of inducing that change)?” It isn’t “Is there a decisive gay gene?” Focusing on these aspects as if they impact the goal question truly are smoke screens.

    Again, I don’t think you establish that Diamond is hypocritical. Firstly, she doesn’t proclaim the lack of a gay gene because it is not relevant to the goal argument…in fact, it actually decenters people from the conversation (which is her ENTIRE point. Everyone’s looking at a gay gene when they should be looking at: is it consciously chosen and can it be consciously changed? Nothing about this point has changed without the gay gene.) Since you already note that science is preceded by politics, you should actually note that Diamond’s attitude is completely in line with expectations — since she knows that arguments about a lack of a gay gene are a smoke screen. She doesn’t say this because she is somehow “acquiescing” with arguments for a gay gene. If you or someone takes Diamond’s comments as acquiescing for a gay gene, that is an overassumption, but Diamond doesn’t have the “duty” to dispel that assumption every time she is quoted.

    No, she makes her comment about smokescreens because, though there is not a decisive gay gene, truly, it is not relevant to the core argument.

    What she is saying about right-wingers is this: when they hear that there is no gay gene, they jump to the conclusion, “Oh, so gays CHOOSE that way.” When they hear about fluid sexuality, they jump to the conclusion, “Oh, so change is possible; that means it can be CONSCIOUSLY CHOSEN.” These are not non sequitur conclusions and that’s what Diamond is calling out on. Diamond is taking issue with their views on the sexual orientation change — she simply is pointing out that when right-wingers argue about a lack of a gay gene, they usually do connect it closely with their views on sexual orientation change.

  45. Hafen’s talk has disheartened LDS parents of gay and lesbian children. By attributing their attractions to a disorder that perhaps can be changed with effort, he marks a official path of nonacceptance. The large number of gravesites at Utah County cemeteries of gay and lesbian youth tells the tale of the suicidal consequences of church nonacceptance.

  46. jeanne, I actually don’t think that’s what Hafen is saying. Hafen isn’t necessarily arguing that the attractions can be changed with effort. This is, I think, a steady progression that the church has made — it used to be the church fully believed that the attractions could be eliminated and changed through whatever method (and so they had things like electroshock aversion therapy…which was ineffective). This changed to the idea that in God Loveth His Children…where the church said, “While many…overcome, others may not be free of this challenge in life.” This still implied that “many” overcome (which is dubious), but at least it offered the POSSIBILITY that maybe this is something that people stick with.

    And I see Hafen’s talk as moving more in that direction. Hafen points out that “on resurrection morning, and perhaps before then, [gay men and women] will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex.” While this is not acceptance, it is still a shift. So now, instead of expecting people to change orientation in this life, the church is saying that it will probably happen with the resurrection.

    Again, it isn’t acceptance. It still is a hardline stance that doesn’t really give gay men and women room to live, but it’s not as bad as the 70s and before.

  47. jeanne: I believe that your rhetoric an hyperbole are not helpful First, while there may well be many that cannot change; it is very clear from the research that human sexuality and commitment to one orientation or another is much less fixed for some than for others. I’m positive that I cannot change the fact that I am heterosexual. However, there are many who can choose either way. So your one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t reflect the reality that some can change and that some desire to change. It also suggests that there is something wrong with those who desire to change. Perhaps they fit on the sexuality continuum in a range where they can change and receiving counseling from others, including Evergreen, may be instrumental or useful for them. Your one-size-fits all approach may not fit these people.

    Second, your statements about grave sites is a blame-game. Suicide is a very complex issue – but I am certain that those who choose to take their own lives have some issues that suggest disorders of some sort. I am not claiming that homosexuality is a mental disorder, but anyone who takes his or her own life without some mental disorder must take accountability for such a decision. “The church” didn’t cause anyone to commit suicide. If it was a free choice, then the person who chooses is accountable. If it wasn’t a free choice, then whatever mental disorder lead to that decision is to blame.

    Those who make free choices must take accountability for those choices. If there is no choice regarding one’s orientation, it denigrates those who are homosexual to say that they are that way only because they had no choice because it implies no one would choose to be homosexual if they had the choice. The very argument seems to undercut what you want to say about the worth of persons.

    There is nothing wrong with being homosexual. Nothing. Nor does my heart go out to those who are homosexual because there is nothing wrong with them. However, we are all, hetero and homosexual alike, responsible and accountable for our free choices and behaviors that we choose. Time to stop the blame-game.

  48. As for the APA, “psychological disorder” is simply a political and social judgment without any real criteria for determining what is really “healthy.” R. J. Lang was noted for his view that there is inevitably a social judgment entailed in the conclusion as to what is and is not a disorder based on normativity. The very category is useless except insofar as one wants to fit in with one’s more general culture. As a Mormon, I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to.

  49. From the perspective of a gay Mormon dad who has been heterosexually married and tried for many years to do and be exactly what the Church said I should do and be so that I wouldn’t be gay anymore, I have to say that I find this discussion a bit long on heat and short on light.

    For me and for more of my friends and colleagues in the Church than I can count, the issue with Hafen’s talk is not the particulars of an accurate APA or WSJ quote. It is the overall attitude that God’s gay children are broken, flawed, and need fixing. It is the condescension and the pretense that he knows what we are really thinking and what we really want. It is the intellectual dishonesty that permeates the talk from start to finish. It is the invention of a new and, IMHO, entirely fictitious “doctrine” that the resurrection will magically make us all straight when there is no scriptural basis for such a belief and in fact the BoM strongly suggests to the contrary.

    Virtually without exception, every member of the Church I know who is gay, or who has a gay family member and has not already ostracized that member from the family circle, considers Hafen’s talk an offensive, dishonest, agenda-driven, giant leap backward in the agonizingly slow process of the Church’s willingness to accept reality.

  50. Is it not an article of faith among all Christians that, because of the fall, all of God’s children are to some extent “broken, flawed, and need fixing?” The Church was established to restore the divine path of healing, which might not occur in this life. Those who cannot admit flaws in themselves or their children will have a hard time being healed and certainly will have a difficult position with the Church.

    As for therapy, the case is not black and white since the human personality exhibits an amazing variety. I urge all sides of the issue keep an open mind. “The psychiatrist who led the team that deleted homosexuality from the diagnostic manual in 1973, now says homosexuality may sometimes be changeable.” See http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/narth/spitzer3.html The notion that change is impossible seems to be held by some as an article of faith. They are entitled to their belief, but so is Elder Hafen.

    Those who call on individuals or society to repent have historically not been well received. Elder Oaks correctly pointed out just recently that religious freedom will be increasingly under assault.

    I have two gay relations that I know of, one rather distant . (My anonymous name is to maintain their privacy.) They are not ostracized by their families. One is in an LDS family. One is of another Christian faith. I would not be quick to generalize about families, LDS or otherwise.

    I knew Elder Hafen years ago. I do no consider Elder Hafen to be dishonest or deserving of the criticism Alan heaps on him.

  51. I am coming late to this conversation, although I have been following this blog. I read Elder Hafen’s talk with great anticipation and hope. I was disappointed that Elder Hafen used the Evergreen Conference as a forum to defend church policy on the issues of homosexuality and marriage. I was hoping that a conference devoted to helping LDS Church members dealing with same-sex attraction would address their needs and concerns. Elder Hafen did dedicate his first 23 paragraphs addressing those men and women (seated in front of him) who “struggle with same-sex attraction.” The next 28 paragraphs, however, were devoted to defending the LDS Church’s polices concerning homosexuality, marriage and family. I believe that Elder Hafen’s article is more “informative” than “well-informed.” Elder Hafen enlightens and informs us that he, specifically, and the other church leaders, more generally, have decided that it is more important to keep defending the church policy on homosexuality than to minister to the needs of us who struggle with same-sex attraction.
    Elder Hafen is a very intelligent man. He is trained in law, logic and reason. I am certain that Elder Hafen is very keenly aware that his position on homosexuality can be argued against using the logic and reason.
    I can appreciate the intellectual exercise of discussing minute points in Elder Hafen’s talk; however, we are missing opportunities to minister to our brothers and sisters in need. I am 40 years old and I am a homosexual. I have spent most of my life trying to understand my place in the LDS church, which I love.
    Dennis, if you don’t trust the APA, may I suggest to you (and to church leaders) that the church conduct its own study about homosexuality. What would we find out? What would we learn? As a man who is active in the church and is open about my same-sex attraction, I am always amazed that I am not asked my opinion or asked to share my experience. What could we learn if we would sit down and have honest discussions about homosexually, instead of arguing over semantics?

  52. It amazes me that Joseph H and Alan directly or indirectly accuse Elder Hafen of dishonesty and condescension. I wonder if they are the ones being dishonest by not saying outright what they ultimately want (permission to…) and condescending by attempting to assume leadership in the Church themselves (since they know better).

    Do they suppose that in private counsels that the Church leaders have never been in dialog with homosexuals? What they seem to be asking without saying so outright is that the Church accept and ultimately celebrate and even consecrate something that has from ancient times and nearly universally in Christianity been considered sinful. Other churches have faced this demand and have either stood firm (e.g. the Catholics and conservative Evangelicals) or have folded (e.g. liberal Episcopal and Lutheran groups). The result in the case of the liberal churches has been schism and a flight from liberal pews into more traditional ones. That doesn’t automatically make the liberals right or wrong, but it does suggest that those who try to change the tradition (without authority in my humble opinion) will find the resultant church a shadow of its former self.

  53. Joseph
    May I suggest an answer to your lifelong struggle to find your place in the Mormon Church? There isn’t one. There never will be unless you are willing to lie to yourself the rest of your life, and live among people whose sometimes ‘tolerance’ of you is little more than a way for them to feel even more superior to you than they already do. Tolerating someone they deem so inferior to themselves gives them a little ‘superiority buzz.’ The Mormon Church, according to Elder Packer, views you as an ‘enemy’. Why torture yourself?

  54. Anonymous

    Let me assure you that homosexuals have no desire for Mormons to ‘celebrate’ or ‘consecrate’ anything about us. We only wish for you to leave us alone and to move on to another target.

  55. Anonymous

    Nothing like that good ‘ol time tradition, when blacks, women and gays minded their place. Thanks but no thanks–don’t need the ‘ol time tradition or religion.

  56. Anonymous

    Sorry for the multiple posts, but just once I would like for these people who are supposedly ‘cured’ of their homosexuality and now changed into heterosexuals to speak for themselves. I am not talking about the usual suspects, who will talk about how they don’t have promiscuous sex, or that they now play basketball as proof that they are no longer homosexual. I ask that just once these people, whoever they are, can speak for themselves–I don’t even ask for two. Your ‘anonymous’ tag is to protect them? What? That doesn’t even make sense.

  57. Joseph H:

    As a man who is active in the church and is open about my same-sex attraction, I am always amazed that I am not asked my opinion or asked to share my experience. What could we learn if we would sit down and have honest discussions about homosexually, instead of arguing over semantics?

    I suspect we’d learn a great deal. I’m very much in favor of hearing others share their experience in their own terms. My “arguing over semantics” in this post hardly precludes sitting down and having honest discussions about homosexuality. In fact I’ve done this on many occasions. I’m sorry you’re not asked to share your opinion or experience more. You’re certainly welcome to here.

  58. Joseph

    As a person who has sparred with Dennis in the past, I think that when he says he wants you to share your opinion here at least (obviously the Mormon Church isn’t interested) I believe that he really means that. That is to say, he wants to hear your opinions–I am sure that he has had enough of mine!

  59. Don Harryman,

    Your response to Joseph strikes me as pretty insensitive. He had remarked that people don’t care to hear his opinion or experience in terms of his sexual orientation and his church membership (which he loves) — and then you proceed to assume that he’s better off outside the church. Maybe, just maybe, his experience is different than others. The assumption that all gay and lesbian members are better off outside of the church seems to ignore individual differences and experiences.

    About your wanting to hear from people who have changed their sexual orientation– I know of one individual who has successfully changed so as to have what he considers to be a happy and fulfilling marriage, sexual life, and children. But he does not openly discuss this with others because it’s not something he really likes out in the open–this may include issues involving his children. I hope that a person’s right to privacy about his/her sexual life is a widely respected thing.

    I suspect that the people “Anonymous” refers to (and many, many others) are in similar scenarios. That may be why you don’t hear of them as often. And it makes perfect sense why he/she would choose to be anonymous–their relationship may be close enough that it might reveal who they are if the person uses an identifying name. In my case, there is no such worry–the relationship is far too distant.

    I should say, though, that there are certainly individuals who are “out of the closet” in terms of their sexual orientation change, including church members. Like this guy.

  60. Dennis:

    I don’t think Don Harryman’s response to Joseph was insensitive…or at least, it’s only as insensitive as the church’s own reaction to Joseph, since Don’s point was to summarize and elucidate the relationship between the church and people like Joseph (and his conclusion: it is what it is. You will have to make huge concessions to survive and/or be unhappy and unfulfilled.)

    Hearing his opinion and experience, while it would expose us all to the pain and heartbreak experienced, wouldn’t change the status quo for a moment. So, if Joseph already notes dissatisfaction with the status quo (as I think he does…his needs and concerns are not met, and he does not feel ministered to)…well, that’s just too bad because things will not change.

  61. Andrew,

    I hear what you’re saying. But Don didn’t quite say what you are saying. He said, in his own words, that there is no place for someone like Joseph H. in the church.

  62. Dennis,

    No, that’s really not what Don said. Clearly, Don allowed for a place for Joseph H in the church. Maybe what you dislike is how Don pointed out that to fit in that place, Joseph must be willing to “lie to [him]self the rest of [his] life” and be treated as an “enemy” or someone “inferior.”

    So, Don *has* conceded as much. His question (which I think is valid, and is something that everyone, especially Joseph, must answer) is: “Why torture yourself?”

  63. Dennis

    I couched my comment to Joseph as a ‘suggestion’ specifically and did not posit it nor do I presume to tell him that my answer should also be his. I chose not to presume that Joseph is so delicate that he cannot decide for himself what his choice should be–and he therefore should be able to sort through the choices and decide for himself including the choice to leave a place where he is so obviously not wanted. If he feels that he has found his answer after a lifetime of staying with the Mormon Church, he would have no need to express his dissatisfaction with his situation on this board.

    I made it very clear also that I believed what you said when you stated your willingness to have a reasonable conversation, as I think that you have demonstrated to me that you in fact are interested in and capable of such, in spite of my anger and sarcasm, which you have dealt with admirably.

    That you may be willing to have a conversation with him I think is genuine–if he were able to find that in the Mormon Church, he wouldn’t be looking here.

  64. The person in the article has never once stated that he is now a heterosexual and not a homosexual. He talks about leaving the ‘homosexual lifestyle’, whatever that means. I will take anyone to dinner at the finest restaurant in San Francisco…and there are many great ones…who can cogently and simply define what the term ‘homosexual lifestyle’ means. How does one leave something that cannot be defined in the English language?

  65. Andrew,

    Yes, but even saying that there is no place in the Church unless he is willing to lie to himself is presumptuous. I imagine that there are gays and lesbians who are very happy in the church and feel completely honest with themselves. (In fact I don’t just imagine this, I know this.) It may be difficult (even tortuous in some ways), but that hardly means they are lying to themselves.

    Don,

    I appreciate your kind remarks. (By the way, I didn’t see your last post until my last one had already posted.) Thanks for clarifying about your intentions.

    OK, I think I’m done commenting about this issue :)

  66. Dennis:

    It’s not presumptuous when Joseph himself comments here noting disappointment with Elder Hafen’s remarks (although they are par the course for what the brethren have been saying) and Hafen’s lack of ministry to his issues. So, as Don points out, there will be no snug place…there will continue to be difficulty and torture (as even you concede). Because it actually turns out that even if one *does* lie, they haven’t found a place for themselves…they’ve found a place for the lie self they have created…

  67. Don: In my experience of you on this post, you are far more judgmental of LDS than I have ever seen any faithful LDS treat an LGBT person. You insist that all LDS are not merely judgmental but also insist on being superior. We’re all liars somehow. Such comments embody the very prejudice and unthinking judgment that you decry in others. Speak for yourself if you wish, but at least have the sense to recognize that you can’t speak for others and their experience. Nor can you pigeon-hole and judge all LDS with your ill-considered statements.

    Andrew, joining someone who insists on pigeon-holing and judging others for pigeon-holing and judging others smacks of the very same kind of bias. Suggesting that LDS treat LGBTs as “enemies” is not merely hateful rhetoric but an inflammatory lie. My cousin is gay and very happy in the church. My wife’s cousin is married to a gay man who is very happy being both Mormon and gay. So the kinds of universal judgments about what can and does work for others is simply ill-considered in my view. Speak for yourself — but speaking as an omniscient judge as the representative for all LGBT is not merely presumptuous but necessarily insists on what you couldn’t possibly know.

  68. Blake:

    If the church organizes a campaign consistently against the rights of LGBT people, I don’t know what to say other than the church treats them as enemies.

    It’s not a matter of one or two individuals. It’s that the church institutionally views LGBT interests as being counter to the church’s religious interests, and they have said as much in repeated statements. Pretending that this isn’t so is what really seems to me to be an “inflammatory lie.”

    How do you escape this? Well, one way is by rejecting LGBT interests. But Don already pointed out the necessity of this. This should not be controversial. This *is* what the church asks its LGBT members to do. The church simply believes (again, this isn’t one or two people, this is the collecting evidence of an institutional position, so really, Blake, you are on the outside here. As someone who has published in Sunstone much more often than in FAIR [although props for all of it], don’t you realize this?) that gay members should not “buy into rhetoric” that would identify them with the “gay lifestyle” or gay identity politics or whatever else.

    This really should not be controversial. This really should not strike such a chord. This simply is the way things are.

    Now, what I did not do is presume to be omniscient judge and representative for all LGBT. However, I *did* report the situation — the deal — for all LGBT. The church has an institutionally standard hand…you don’t have to be an omniscient judge or representative to tell the hand. As for the *reaction* of various LGBT members, I don’t pretend to be omniscience. I know that people’s mileages may vary. Your wife’s cousin’s husband obviously has reacted in one way. Your cousin has reacted in one way. But for those who hear and read Elder Hafen’s statement and are unfulfilled and unsatisfied, and who ponder why it is that church authorities use chances to speak not to minister to LGBT people but instead to defend church policy (these are not my words, these are Joseph’s words), then I simply have to point out that that’s how things are. I have to point out that if they are looking for things to get better from a difference in the way the church ministers to its LGBT members (and that’s in any difference, I’m not saying they have to “capitulate” to “LGBT interests”)…I think that such a hope simply isn’t in the cards dealt.

  69. Andrew: Suggesting that the church view LGBT folks as “enemies” because it supported Prop. 8 is nonsense in my view. Apparently you missed the fact that the Church is seeking to protect religious expression and its own rights as an institution in this political debate. Disagreeing is not demonizing (unlike the way you approach this issue).

    Note that you are the one painting with a broad brush here. The Church has legitimate interests to protect. It has every right to view sexual conduct (as opposed to sexual orientation) as sinful. It has every right to seek to promote what it sees as a legitimate interest in traditional marriage.

    I have no idea what a gay lifestyle is — and if your point is that a “gay lifestyle” cannot be defined, then we can agree there. However, I know perfectly well what it means to a person to promote homosexual marriage.

    Now you probably know that I support civil unions — for both homosexual and heterosexual unions by the civil government because that is all that any civil authority could pretend to do. However, the Church is on the record as not opposing civil unions (tho not on record as supporting such unions).

    Further, I don’t believe that you are in a position to opine or pontificate about the “deal” for all LGBT folks as you purport to do once again. How do you know that all who read Elder Hafen’s statement “are unfulfilled and unsatisfied”?

    Finally, I don’t believe in “cards dealt.” I don’t see you as simply fated, broken or even injured — and not as a victim. More importantly, there is a very broad spectrum of orientations and commitment to orientation and there is no one-size fits all for any of us. There may yet be a place for Joseph H in the church and a very pleasing and happy place because it is the kingdom of God made up of struggling saint-in-the-making.

  70. No, I didn’t miss the fact that the church believes it is defending its religious expression. I was acutely aware of this when they determined that their religious expression could best be preserved – out of all possible ways – by supporting Prop 8. Through their actions, they have conflated the two goals of defending themselves and their position and preventing LGBT from realizing the right to marriage.

    So, you’re trying to demonize my position here by suggesting that I am demonizing the church, which I am not. You take this disgusting high road position based on this strawman, when I am simply reporting what the church’s actual position taken has been. As you yourself admit, the church feels their religious expression and political rights are threatened…but how can this be without an opposition to threaten these rights? You know fully well that the church has much to gain if they can successfully frame the issue like so (in the same way you know fully that you have much to gain if you can frame me simply as someone who “paints with broad strokes” or is “demonizing” the other side.)

    The issue wirh Prop 8 is that the church didn’t simply establish sexual conduct as sinful. Because this is something the church does within its membership. But Prop 8 isn’t focused on Mormons or any other religious group, yet the church still found it a threat to its religious expression and so contributed to it to define sin not just for the members, but for all California citizens. But that really gets into a tyranny of the majority issue (since obviously, it wasn’t just the church defining morality for all – it was a majority of CA voters). That’s really neither here nor there.

    I’m not saying all who read Hafen’s statement are unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Read what I say carefully in the future, because this is not the first time you have grossly misinterpreted what I’m saying. What I said was that all heard Elder Hafen’s statement. That is the deal. That is the hand. I CAN state this because it’s public. It is what it is.

    And I can state that someone like Joseph is unulfilled, because similarly, that IS what he wrote. So what is Joseph to do? He should expect ministry and fulfillment unless *he* will change things about *himself*. You already agree with me here: you call it the struggling saint-in-the-making. The issue is if the saint-in-the-making process will be worth it. Will it be worth the sacrifice?

    We respectfully disagree here. But each inidividual decides this for himself or herself. We deal with the hand on our own.

  71. Andrew: By suggesting that the Church treats LGBT folks as “enemies” you have demonized the church. At least have the integrity to admit what you have said here in black and white. Such statements are inflammatory and a vast misrepresentation.

    I’m glad that you now admit that not all who read Elder Hafen’s talk will be unfulfilled and unsatisfied. If that’s not what you mean above then I misread you. You stated: “But for those who hear and read Elder Hafen’s statement and are unfulfilled and unsatisfied, and who ponder why it is that church authorities use chances to speak not to minister to LGBT people but instead to defend church policy,” I took you to be saying that those who read him will be left wanting. While I believe what you said can be read that way, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    As I see it, defending Church policy regarding marriage and ministering to LGBT folks are not mutually exclusive. I disagree with you that there is a right for LGBT folks to marry and it begs the question when you simply assume that such a right exists without argument. The very point of the Prop. 8 vote was to determine whether the long-standing view of marriage in CA would be upheld against the decision of 5 judges who circumvented the public debate on that very issue — is there such a right?

    If you want to see the effect of such reasoning look at the Benitez case here where a doctor was denied licensing by the state for refusing to perform services that were contrary to her religious beliefs: http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2008-08/41684837.pdf
    While I don’t condone doctors refusing medical help based on factors such as orientation, I believe that the competing interest of religious liberty deserved a lot more than the CA court granted it.

    It isn’t much of an extension of the Benitez case to see that LDS Social Services could also be denied licenses –as Catholic Charities would have been in Boston according to the regulatory authorities unless it agreed to perform adoptions for gay couples. These are very significant issues for religious organizations and failure to see the real concerns involved is myopic. The Church didn’t oppose civil unions but it did oppose gay marriage as a fundamental right because once such a right is recognized it has far reaching legal implications for church organizations and their religious missions. The legislative approach that carves out exemptions for religious organization is a much better way to approach these issues in my view — and such an approach appropriately places such issues back in the hands of the democratic electorate for civil debate and a balancing of competing interests.

    Further, just what is the gripe? There are vast numbers of those who may identify as LGBT who are not as committed in orientation as others. Perhaps the kinds of approaches suggested by Hafen can assist them to accomplish the fidelity and orientation they choose. This isn’t an all-or-nothing type of issue.

    BTW even those of who are hetero are struggling not-quite-saints. We’re all in the same boat there.

  72. Blake:

    I still disagree that I am demonizing the church. I think you continue to be opportunistic here. I am simply classifying what the church ACTUALLY has done and said. As you yourself have pointed out, the church has its own reason for doing what it is doing…so in other words, you do not disagree that the church has actually done and said these things. Rather, you point out that they have a reason for doing it. I already know they have a reason for doing these things (defending their religious and political rights)…but this reason of course has a flip side that must not be ignored (in defending their religious and political rights, they are encroaching upon that of others. They are simply hoping to frame the issue one way [defense], rather than another [attack].) So do not doubt my integrity because I refuse to fall into your disparaging framework simply because I tell things as they are and it is you who has misinterpreted what I’ve been saying several times, as I’ll go into now.

    I’m glad that you now admit that not all who read Elder Hafen’s talk will be unfulfilled and unsatisfied. If that’s not what you mean above then I misread you. You stated: “But for those who hear and read Elder Hafen’s statement and are unfulfilled and unsatisfied, and who ponder why it is that church authorities use chances to speak not to minister to LGBT people but instead to defend church policy,” I took you to be saying that those who read him will be left wanting. While I believe what you said can be read that way, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Yeah, my statement was and is a conditional statement, conditional on two things.

    1) for those who hear and read Elder Hafen’s statement
    AND
    2) are unfulfilled and unsatisfied, who ponder.

    So, I wasn’t stating that everyone is going to fit this two-part conditional. Only that for those who do fit this conditional (then go to rest of sentence). In the sentence PRIOR I referred to your cousin and your wife’s cousin as people who do not fit the conditional (e.g., “they have reacted in one way…BUT for those who are unfulfilled, I point that the church is the way it is.” So, I don’t know what to say, but it seems pretty clear that the “but” is contrasting two different kinds of people, which means that I openly acknowledge two different kinds of people — and more). But we know that one person in particular meets this two-part conditional. That is Joseph in this very topic. That is why Don addressed him; that is why I addressed him. And now you come along for damage control for the framework. You come along to insist that Don and I are simply “pigeonholing” and “judging others for pigeonholing.”

    But I have not done either. I have presented what has happened and what has been said. I have not made a judgment call. It is only you who have attempted to say that I am trying to judge the church (“demonizing” them, as you say). and then you judge my integrity for it. It seems to me you’re seriously projecting.

    No, I am laying out the situation. The deal. This is what Elder Hafen has said. Furthermore, I am noting that this is not a loose comment, but rather is indicative of a trend in church policy and action. So, this is the hand. Every individual must work with the hand dealt. Now, of course as I have ALREADY pointed out, some individuals (like your wife’s cousin, like your cousin) have already worked with this hand in certain ways. But their reactions have involved particular things. For one, your wife’s cousin’s husband is happily married to your wife’s cousin.

    The vast majority of your comment is a prop 8 comment. I am not arguing prop 8 (as far as I’m concerned, it has *happened*. So regardless of the legitimacy of the arguments on either side — which is sketchy, even with the arguments you have presented. For example, the ramifications of the Catholic Charities case. If an organization wants to be an *agent of the state* [which LDS Social Services does not, because it is solidly private and does not take public funding], then of *course* it cannot discriminate. But this isn’t a point against marriage. This is a point against anti-discrimination laws and civil rights laws. This is similar to the Benitez case in that Dr. Benitez is putting herself into a BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT that is legally obliged to provide full and equal services based on all the protected classes. As the LDS church is not an agent of the public and it is not a business environment, it is not touched by these cases. And if you’re against anti-discrimination laws, then the problem is that these weren’t set in place as a result of Prop 8. Prop 8 simply determined that the word “marriage” could not be used to describe existing rights already afforded to gay couples. Most telling, LDS Family Services has continued to facilitate voluntary adoptions throughout everything that has happened in Massachusetts without *any* cases against it for discrimination against gay couples or individuals. Why? Because it is not an agent of the state. ) But still, the reason why I’m not getting into a prop 8 argument is because it’s old news…It has happened. The people have spoken. THIS IS THE DEAL. THIS IS THE HAND. Everyone has to deal with it..

    I am NOT saying that defending church policy regarding marriage and ministering to LGBT folks must be mutually exclusive. What I am saying is that it just happens to be for some members. When Elder Hafen goes to Evergreen, this is what he says. When Elder Oaks is linked on the newsroom blog, he says what he says. All that Joseph points out is that he feels there is defending of policy rather than ministry. Why is this the case?

    Let us say that even the 99 are fulfilled and Joseph is the 1…then what will we do about the 1? Or, if Joseph isn’t the 1, what will we do about the 1 who I guess “are as committed in orientation” (whatever this means…) What will we do about the 1 for whom “accomplishing the fidelity and orientation they choose” either involves ostracization for living in sin or lying to themselves about their feelings and possibly including another person in their lie?

    This is a delicate answer.

    The hetero struggling not-quite saints are not told that their heterosexuality is by default a dead end that should not be pursued. They are *always* encouraged to find the proper outlet for their heterosexuality if possible. The standards on what a proper outlet for a heterosexual are also decidedly different: consider a heterosexual nonmarried couple holding hands. No one bats an eye. It is chaste. Consider a homosexual nonmarried couple doing the same. It is forbidden. It is incorrect. It is wrong. It is immoral and sinful.

  73. Blake

    Your contention that I find most Mormons and the institutional Mormon Church to be judgmental and that I believe that both the MC and most of its members view themselves as superior to everyone else is absolutely true. I do. I believe the evidence to be abundant and it is reconfirmed to me daily. Where you got the idea that I think that all Mormons are liars is anyone’s guess. You cast yourself as the only ‘true’ church, and all others as false. You contend that God speaks to you alone. You insist not only that my family (I have 3 boys) is inferior to your model of the ‘traditional’ family (completely ignoring of course for the current PR concerns of the MC your past history and current theology of polygamy) and that my family having the exact same equal rights under the law as yours somehow constitutes a ‘threat’ to traditional marriage (what happened to polygamy? DC132 is still there unless I missed something) which requires you to ‘protect’ it. You don’t need to protect something that someone isn’t trying to destroy and homosexuals seeking equal marriage is the current ‘threat’ you see to traditional marriage which will destroy it or you wouldn’t have seen the need for Prop 8 to strip homosexuals of the same rights that you have. Elder Packer called ‘homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals’ the ‘enemies’ of the MC–so if you don’t accept that your issue is with him and not me. I will find the reference for you if you like, but it has been no doubt relegated to the file of ‘things said by MC leaders that we find inconvenient and embarrassing so we don’t discuss them.’

    Your suggestion that homosexuals having equal protection under the law is a threat to religious freedom is nonsense, as no Church is required to marry anyone for any reason they choose–we have Constitutionally protected freedom of religion which allows religions to say what they choose and to marry whom they will. The case of Catholic Charities of Boston and the adoption issue is a perfect example of similar fear mongering which is not based in reality. Catholic Charities does not use its own funds–the adoption service in question used public monies–and thus was forbidden to discriminate with public monies. LDS Social Services still functions using its own funds and openly discriminates against homosexuals because their right to do so–however onerous, hateful and stupid–is protected.

    The core issue here is that the Mormon Church feels that its views because they are based on religion, trumps those views which are not based on a religious view or those of a different ‘unapproved’ religion, like one that actually believes that homosexuals are also children of God and worthy of equal protection under the law and dignity–not the ‘so-called gays and lesbians’ the MC refers to. (apparent we are not gay or lesbian but ‘so called’ gays and lesbians–again, these are President Hinckley’s words so if you don’t like them, your issue is with him and not me.) Your views accordingly are beyond criticism, thoughtful or otherwise, and your views should prevail simply because you have them.

    If you think that homosexual Americans should just accept the Mormon Church’s position that we are ‘enemies’, that our ‘homosexual lifestyle’ is immoral, that our families are not worthy of equal protection under the law, that we should accept Mormon political activity designed to strip homosexuals of equal rights under the law, that we should accept similar political activity that seeks to deny us protection in employment or housing, or activity at the Supreme Court supporting the BSA’s policy of excluding people like me from the Scouts (tell me again why I shouldn’t participate with my boys?) and conclude that Mormons are (aw shucks) just the nicest people and we shouldn’t in return cast the MC as our enemy, than you are wrong. Every action the MC has taken politically has been for the sole purpose of demonizing, marginalizing and making homosexual Americans unequal under the law. Do you honestly think that we are just going to accept that because of some PR nonsense about how much you love everybody? I don’t think so.

    I have not addressed myself to anything said by Elder Hafen, but I will say now that I believe his views to be ignorant , destructive nonsense specifically designed to further demonize homosexuals. However, what I think of Elder Hafen’s remarks makes no difference. I belong neither to the Mormon Church, nor to the MC funded Evergreen. I addressed myself to the dissatisfaction and disappointment expressed by Joseph, and merely added my observation that staying in the Church is unhealthy and I think self destructive, and that doing so is self torture. I do not presume that everyone should do that–but I always laugh at the boatloads of happy homosexuals everyone talks about who belong to the Mormon Church who never seem to be able to speak for themselves. I addressed myself to yet another homosexual who is dissatisfied and suggested that leaving is one alternative to torturing yourself. Your problem is that I dared to say what is obvious to me as a solution. It was for me, and I have never looked back, until the Mormon Church decided to attack me and my family both in Hawaii and California.

    Once homosexual Americans have won equality, I guarantee that you will never hear from me again, and I will leave Mormons very much alone to find yet another enemy (blacks, all other churches and religions, homosexuals, feminists, intellectuals) who is ruining everything for Gods Chosen.

  74. Don: Your hate-mongering and prejudice in your post are shocking to me — and quite counterproductive to any conversation of mutual respect. The fact that you fail to see that there are competing interests here in the political arena suggests to me that you simply refuse to engage in this dialog with any attempt to see what is at issue for those who disagree with you.

    Most Mormons see themselves as superior? Really? Do you know most Mormons? I disagree with your view but I haven’t done a poll to really know. Does that mean that I see myself as superior to you? I don’t even know you and I wouldn’t dare make that judgment if I did. I believe that when it comes to such issues it is better to take people one at a time. However, you smear most Mormons without any basis and your own post wreaks of the very superiority you decry.

    I’ll be waiting for your reference from Elder Packer to show that he called homosexuals the enemy (I’m not aware of it and if he said it then it was not appropriate — and if he didn’t then you owe an apology). But know this – I don’t see you as the enemy but as a fellow-traveler doing your best to negotiate life’s challenges. It’s not my place to judge — and it isn’t yours either. However, you might want to take a look at what you wrote since it is chalk-full of judgment and superiority.

    Your assertion that “You contend that God speaks to you alone” would only be made by someone totally ignorant of Mormon claims — which based on your other generalizations is amazing to me. No Mormon that I have ever met make such a claim. Care to back it up with anything more than anger and blustering and name-calling?

    I don’t know where you live, but if you’re in CA then civil unions give you and your boys every protection that can be given by the state. If you don’t live in CAt, then as a natural or adoptive parent you have all parental rights that any parent has. Your claim that you are being denied some right rings hollow to me in light of these facts. What parental right is it that you claim you are denied with respect to your sons? Give me one — just one. Otherwise, all of your blustering is really about social engineering of moral values. Yes, I view homosexual conduct as sinful. But that isn’t what is at issue in this discussion — what Elder Hafen addressed were the efforts of those who want to socially engineer their moral values through governmental coercion.

    What you really want isn’t some further right (since you have those rights already)– what you appear to me to want is social engineering of the morality of homosexual relationships using the the governmental authority as a means. That isn’t an appropriate role of government in my view and I’ll oppose anyone who wants to misuse the government even if I agree with them on the underlying issues. For example, I believe pornography is sinful but I’m not about to lobby the government to outlaw it and would argue vociferously to protect the right to view it.

    Your claims about Catholic Charities are enlightening. Any institution that disagrees with your view must be denied public funds while you desire public funds and protections for your view of what is morally acceptable. Who is using the coercive force of government to force their view here? Catholic Charities could not continue to do what it did unless it promoted the State’s programs — and it chose to get out of the adoption business because of the State’s mandates. It takes a real twisting of the facts to avoid that fact. In addition, it is easy to see how the Benitez holding in CA, in the absence of Prop. 8, would be extended to hold that state licensing must be denied to anyone who refused to carry out the states mandate of services regardless of the beliefs of the person or of the organization providing the service. The Plaintiff in Benitez did not receive state funds. An easy extension of Benitez suggests that any persons or organizations not providing services to homosexuals would be denied licensing. Do you propose that is how state licensing should be done? It sounds like it from your post. Perhaps you could engage the real analysis rather than a straw man.

    Your comments about Elder Hafen are driven by anger and hate and express a deep misunderstanding as to what is at issue. What of those who are not as committed to their orientation and desire change or assistance in changing? Do you simply suggest that is impossible for some to change contra the clear evidence of a large range of levels of orientation commitment?

    You are entitled to your opinion about what is healthy — but it is deeply misinformed. Remaining in the Mormon church is not merely healthy, but life affirming and inspiring.

    You assert that you can be denied housing based on current laws. What laws allow you to be denied housing in any way that I couldn’t be denied? How are you unprotected in employment any less than I am? What you want isn’t equality, you want special protections over and above those that are given to heterosexuals under current laws it seems to me.

    As for the BSA, I’m no supporter of the BSA, but I support the view that homosexual leaders should not be supervising boys on campouts. I support that view for the same reason that I don’t want male coaches in the girls locker rooms. It has to do with what turns one on.

    Now it is clear to me that you see Mormons as the enemy — your post says as much. It is impossible to get thru to someone as hell-bent on demonizing and judging as your post does here. Frankly, it does your cause far more harm than good. However, I refuse to believe that we couldn’t be friends with mutual respect if we sat down and broke bread together. In that spirit, all the best to you and your family.

  75. I find nothing in Elder Hafen’s talk that indicates he wishes to “target” homosexuals or that he feels anyone should feel superior to anyone else. Pride is considered a sin in Christianity. Pride is considered something to be celebrated by the homosexual lobby.

    As for public policy, the realization by society that heterosexuality plays a role in the preservation of the species that is not and cannot be comparable to homosexuality’s role is rooted not only in universal tradition, but also in biology. Elder Oaks in his recent talk cited the example of France as a very secular society that rejects homosexual marriage. Far from being “the old time religion” the traditional definition of marriage is a consensus gentium around the globe and throughout the ages until only very recently. The analogy to slavery as a religious tradition is false and is rejected by the majority of blacks.

    As for being left alone, I would note that my anonymous tag is precisely because I want people to have the freedom be left alone. The homosexual lobby “outs” people and then asks that gays be left alone. This strikes me as hypocrisy. My defense of Elder Hafen is in part because I oppose people attacking Evergreen, which doesn’t seem to be attacking anyone, but which is speaking to those who want to be part of Evergreen. It is the homosexual lobby that seems to attack anyone who dares disagree with them. Disagreement is automatically framed as bigotry or dishonesty. Elder Hafen’s talk, in contrast, never accused anyone of dishonesty or bigotry and was amply footnoted to bring out facts the homosexual lobby does not want anyone to hear.

    As for people speaking for themselves, this blog is read by a small audience, and most people don’t want to blog about their sexuality. I will note that I have met a Latter-day Saint who plunged into the homosexual culture and regretted it and changed his lifestyle accordingly. As for encouraging dialog, the homosexual lobby’s habit of vilifying those who disagree with them will not encourage open discussion.

  76. How far can or will the homosexual lobby go? It starts by vilification and ends in arrests. It can’t happen here. Or can it? See http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=214
    We can, I hope, respect each other’s opinions, but the Latter-day Saints will not give up our freedom of religion, which as the above link and recent attacks in the U.S. indicate, is already under attack.

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