California to Consider Repealing Law re Gay Research
State Housing Historic Proposition 8 Trial to Repeal 1950 law calling for homosexual causes-cures research
A bill was advanced by a narrow margin Tuesday in the state of California that would repeal a state law designed to find the causes and cures of homosexuality.
Published and passed in 1950, the law classifies homosexuals as "sexual deviants" and requires the state Department of Mental Health to conduct research on "deviations conducive to sex crimes against children." The research would be used to help identify persons with a proclivity to molest minors.
The Assembly Committee on Public Safety passed the bill in a narrow 4-0 vote, with one Democrat and two Republican members abstaining from voting, because they believe that although the law's reference to homosexuality should be removed the state should continue researching sex crimes.
California put the law on the books in 1950 as a response to public outcry after a series of sex crimes in Los Angeles. One of these was the rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl. The murderer, who confessed to the crime, was not gay.
"Even then, there was no legal justification to say that gay people needed to be understood and cured in the exact same way as sexual predators who rape and kill children," said Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, who sponsored the bill.
"For us to leave it there would be wrong," she said.
California has not conducted research into homosexuality for the past several decades. The state did, however, release several reports that examined hormone levels, physical characteristics and parental relationships of its subjects.
The American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder until 1973, when it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by psychiatric practicioners. (DSM).
Mario Guerrero, a director of Equality California, a gay-rights advocacy group, says the law mischaracterizes gay people and promotes bigotry against the LGBT community.
He admitted that his organization supports child safety and credible research, but not the research that was brought about by the law.
The legislators who withheld support Tuesday said they preferred to strip the language about homosexual behavior from the law and leave in the provisions requiring the state to conduct research into the causes of sex crimes.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena; Assemblymen Curt Hagman, R-Diamond Bar, and Danny Gilmore, R-Hanford, abstained from voting.
Some believe the research would be better left to universities than the state.
NARTH and the EX-Gay movement
Groups such as NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) and the "Ex-gay" movements - those who claim homosexuals can "change" - do not think the law should be repealed.
These groups distribute both scientific and religious literature - and much of it psychoanalytic - stating that the "born gay" argument is not valid, and that there is no "gay gene". They also cite harm which is brought to bear socially and culturally by the acceptance of the gay lifestyle in general. Many believe that the dropping of homosexuality as a clinical illness from the DSM in 1973 was motivated by political changes, and was not scientifically sound.
. . . a group called Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, also known as PFOX, sent a letter to Lowenthal stating that research into the causes of homosexuality is a legitimate form of science that benefits both ex-gay and gay communities. . .
"Being able to research the cure for those types of emotions is the way we have hope," said Jeralee Smith, the PFOX California Educational Director, in a phone interview.
Smith, 61, finds the bill to repeal offensive. When she was 16, she days, a woman molested her, and this led her into a life of same sex relationships, a life she found painful and diseased.
Although she doesn't think sex offenders are predominantly homosexuals, she doesn't think this in any way precludes them, and does not believe they should excluded from research on the topic, adding that she believes "no door should be closed".
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