Austen Crowder

PFOX victorious in gaining protections for ex-gays?

Filed By Austen Crowder | August 25, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, The Movement
Tags: anti-gay, civil rights, ex-gay, NEA, PFOX, reparative therapy

Well, isn't this just special?

church_lady.jpgIn a precedent setting case, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia has ruled that former homosexuals are a protected class that must be recognized under sexual orientation non-discrimination laws. The Court held that, under the D.C. Human Rights Act, sexual orientation does not require immutable characteristics.


"All sexual orientation laws and programs nationwide should now provide true diversity and equality by including former homosexuals," said Greg Quinlan, a director of PFOX. "I have experienced more personal assaults as a former homosexual than I ever did as a gay man."

An interesting turn of events, but not an altogether bad one. The point of a civil rights movement is to increase equality and rights for all, right? But this "civil rights victory" is actually just another cloak and dagger move by PFOX to gain notoriety.

"The NEA must also stop its bias against the NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus by appointing an ex-gay caucus member to the NEA Sexual Orientation Committee. This committee is staffed with members of the NEA's gay and transgender caucus, although the ex-gay caucus has asked for inclusion."

The NEA successfully argued before the Court that it was not guilty of sexual orientation discrimination because its gay caucus would have protested the presence of PFOX's ex-gay exhibit at the NEA's annual conference. "Gay activists demand equality while denying it to others," said Griggs.

The suit wasn't about protecting ex-gays; it was about protecting PFOX's right to peddle ex-gay myths to the National Education Association. Shame on me for erring on the side of altruism!

I'm okay with giving ex-gay people freedom from discrimination and prejudice. I would be a hypocrite if I said otherwise; despite the fact that I don't agree with their story, and despite the feeling that these ex-gay people are simply lying to get back into the closet, they do have a right to exist free of prejudice and discrimination. Something still bothers me, though: with all the hubbub about ex-gay rights, or ex-gay attacks, or ex-gay discrimination, I have yet to meet one of these nigh-mythical creatures in my daily life.

The argument reeks of a "straw man;" we must take it on faith that these ex-gay people do exist, and that their therapies are successful. Therefore, we must allow people to offer a therapy that has been reported as damaging by the American Psychological Association, and furthermore must allow an organization diametrically opposed to the civil rights and dignity of LGBT people to parade these potentially deadly therapies as valid options to a person "suffering" from same sex attraction or, even more unspeakable, "gender confusion."

Sorry, PFOX. Your civil rights push gets a "close, but no cigar" from me.

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While their intent might be bad, I can't help but notice a significant victory in here.

Over the past couple decades, the courts have been moving more and more to measuring non-discrimination laws by "immutable" factors. It's by that logic that a black person being fired for wearing corn rows or a woman fired for not wearing makeup were considered not issues of race or gender discrimination. This logic creates a standard of: if you can change it, your boss has the right to demand that you do.

It's by that same logic that conservatives try to claim that it's okay to discriminate against LGBTQ folks because it's a choice (and not immutable) to be LGBTQ. i.e. if you can change it, your boss has the right to demand that you do.

Any case law moving away from the "immutability" test is going to result in a vast increase in protections for everyone.

I've heard differently about this case, that the FOX article was incorrect in discussing the breadth of the ruling, that it really only said that ex-gays can't be discriminated against because of sexual behavior even though the NEA had a right to discriminate against their political views.

Does anyone know what's up?

The approach of PFOX is interesting and perhaps rather idiotic on their part. From what I have read they didn't win much of anything. They want ex-gays to be a protected class in the same way gays are a protected class (under sexual orientation). However, the social conservatives who support PFOX might quarrel that gays are not (or should not be) a protected class. So then, has PFOX conceded this point? I suppose they won't be fighting ENDA then?

On the other hand, ex-gay isn't a sexual orientation, but everyone has one, so everyone is protected as concerns their sexual orientation. To be ex-gay, however, is usually to have a religious inspired viewpoint on your own homosexual orientation which causes you to attempt to disavow it.

PFOX is just acting crazier and crazier....

Amber Thompson | August 26, 2009 12:50 PM

The next thing you know they will pass laws to protect Elves and Fairies.

PFOX did not win the case. It lost. The court ruled that PFOX was not discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, and it ruled that the NEA may deny PFOX access to its events and facilities because PFOX is an antigay organization.

Furthermore, the court did not conclusively rule that ex-gays constitute an explicitly protected class. The court reversed an earlier ruling that ex-gays are *not* a protected class, but it did not state that they *are* a protected class in D.C. The court rationalized that, on the basis of the city's expansive Human Rights Act which defines sexual orientation by "preference or practice," ex-gays *might* hypothetically seek protection on the basis of their mutable decision not to "practice" homosexuality. However, the court found that no such discrimination had occurred in the case of the NEA.

What must happen next? D.C. should revise its Human Rights Act so that sexual orientation is not misdefined.

The court ruling has no bearing outside of D.C.; no other locality that I'm aware of, (mis)defines sexual orientation so broadly.

Mike Airhart
Truth Wins Out