Sunday, September 30, 2012

Like "Ex-Gay" Therapy in California, the American Family Association of Pennsylvania Will Be Relegated to the Dustbin of Quackery

California Is First State to Ban Gay ‘Cure’ for Minors

from the New York Times:

California has become the first state to ban the use for minors of disputed therapies to “overcome” homosexuality, a step hailed by gay rights groups across the country that say the therapies have caused dangerous emotional harm to gay and lesbian teenagers.

“This bill bans nonscientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement on Saturday after he signed the bill into law. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

The law, which is to take effect on Jan. 1, states that no “mental health provider” shall provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation, including efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

The law was sponsored by State Senator Ted W. Lieu and supported by a long list of medical and psychological societies, as well by state and national advocates for gay rights. Also speaking up for the ban were former patients who described emotional scars they said they were left with after being pushed into the therapy by their parents and finding that they could not change their sexual orientation or did not want to.

But some therapists and conservative religious leaders who promote methods that they say can reduce homosexual desire have condemned the new law as a violation of free choice. They say that it will harm young people who want to fight homosexual attractions on religious or other grounds and warn that it will lead more people to seek help from untrained amateurs.

The use of harsh aversion techniques, like electric shock or nausea-inducing drugs, to combat homosexual desires has largely disappeared. But during the last three decades, some psychologists have refined a theory of “reparative therapy,” which ties homosexual desires to emotional wounds in early childhood and, in some cases, to early sexual abuse.

These therapists say that with proper treatment, thousands of patients have succeeded in reducing their homosexual attraction and in enhancing heterosexual desire, though most therapists acknowledge that total “cures” are rare. But their methods have come under growing attack from gays who say the therapy has led to guilt, hopelessness and anger.

Reparative therapists, a small minority within the mental health profession, united in 1992 in the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, based in Encino, Calif. The group did not immediately comment on the new California law, but its leaders have previously attacked the legislation as based on politics, not science, and said they would consider challenging it in court as an unjustified intrusion into professional practice.

One licensed family therapist and member of the association, David H. Pickup of Glendale, Calif., said in a recent interview that the ban would cause harm to many who want and need the therapy.

“If boys have been sexually abused and homosexual feelings that are not authentic later come up, we have to tell them no, we can’t help you,” Mr. Pickup said.

Gay and lesbian leaders, along with major scientific groups, reject such theories outright and say there is no scientific evidence that inner sexual attractions can be altered.

“Reparative therapy is junk science being used to justify religious beliefs,” said Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group.

The California law is a milestone, but only a first step, Mr. Besen said, because the ideas in reparative therapy have been widely adopted by church ministries and others promoting the idea that homosexual urges can be banished.

Legislators in New Jersey and a few other states have discussed introducing similar bills to ban the use of the therapy for minors, Mr. Besen said.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Western Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum Says Smart People Will Never Be On His Side — We Agree

from Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out (9/15/12):

Rick 'Frothy Mix' Santorum fulminated against Obama at the Values Voter Summit today in Washington, DC. He accused the president — you know the one who whacked Osama bin Laden — of bowing down to our foes. He said Obama “coddled and appeased” Islamic states that hated us.

The former presidential candidate regurgitated the beyond idiotic fundie talking point that our rights don’t come from government, they come from God. That’s interesting, because there have been many religious nations under the boot of tyranny — only to embrace freedom when the governments changed. For instance, Poland was quite Catholic under communist rule — but not free. Now the nation is free — but increasingly less Catholic. Explain that Frothy…

Santorum also took aim at the media, blasting them being on the side of liberals. However, he did say one thing in which I concur: He claimed the folks at the Values Voters Summit will “never have elite, smart, people on our side.”

Maybe this is because smart people don’t support backward, dumb ideas.

** Here is the video where Frothy basically claims only stupid people support his cause. Finally, something for me to stand up and cheer! (3:17-3:23)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Radical Right Wing 'Christians' Involved In Film That Set Off Violence Across North Africa

from The New York Times (9/13/12):

The film that set off violence across North Africa was made in obscurity somewhere in the sprawl of Southern California, and promoted by a network of right-wing Christians with a history of animosity directed toward Muslims. When a 14-minute trailer of it — all that may actually exist — was posted on YouTube in June, it was barely noticed.

But when the video, with its almost comically amateurish production values, was translated into Arabic and reposted twice on YouTube in the days before Sept. 11, and promoted by leaders of the Coptic diaspora in the United States, it drew nearly one million views and set off bloody demonstrations.

The history of the film — who financed it; how it was made; and perhaps most important, how it was translated into Arabic and posted on YouTube to Muslim viewers — was shrouded Wednesday in tales of a secret Hollywood screening; a director who may or may not exist, and used a false name if he did; and actors who appeared, thanks to computer technology, to be traipsing through Middle Eastern cities. One of its main producers, Steve Klein, a Vietnam veteran whose son was severely wounded in Iraq, is notorious across California for his involvement with anti-Muslim actions, from the courts to schoolyards to a weekly show broadcast on Christian radio in the Middle East.

Yet as much of the world was denouncing the violence that had spread across the Middle East, Mr. Klein — an insurance salesman in Hemet, Calif., a small town two hours east of here — proclaimed the video a success at portraying what he has long argued was the infamy of the Muslim world, even as he chuckled at the film’s amateur production values.

“We have reached the people that we want to reach,” he said in an interview. “And I’m sure that out of the emotion that comes out of this, a small fraction of those people will come to understand just how violent Muhammad was, and also for the people who didn’t know that much about Islam. If you merely say anything that’s derogatory about Islam, then they immediately go to violence, which I’ve experienced.”

Mr. Klein has a long history of making controversial and erroneous claims about Islam. He said the film had been shown at a screening at a theater “100 yards or so” from Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood over the summer, drawing what he suggested was a depressingly small audience. He declined to specify what theater might have shown it, and theater owners in the vicinity of the busy strip said they had no record of any such showing.

The amateurish video opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Coptic Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.

Even as Mr. Klein described his role in the film as incidental, James Horn, a friend who has worked with Mr. Klein in anti-Muslim activities for several years, said he believed Mr. Klein was involved in providing technical assistance to the film and advice on the script. Mr. Horn said he called Mr. Klein on Wednesday. “I said, ‘Steve, did you do this?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ “

As the movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” drew attention across the globe, it was unclear whether a full version exists. Executives at Hollywood agencies said they had never heard of it. Hollywood unions said they had no involvement. Casting directors said they did not recognize the actors in the 14-minute YouTube clip that purports to be a trailer for a longer film. Production offices had no records for a movie of that name. There was a 2009 casting call in BackStage, however, for a film called “Desert Warrior” whose producer is listed as Sam Bassiel.

That name is quite similar to the one that Mr. Klein, in the interview, said was the director of his film. He spelled it Sam Basile, though he added that was not the director’s real name. Mr. Klein said he met Mr. Basile while scouting mosques in Southern California, “locating who I thought were terrorists.”

On Thursday, a federal official said that United States law enforcement officials believe that a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula had also played a role in the production of the film.

An actress who played the role of a mother in the film said in an interview that the director had originally told cast members that the film was “Desert Warriors” and would depict ancient life. Now, she said, she feels duped, angry and sad. “When I looked at the trailer, it was nothing like what we had done. There was not even a character named Muhammad in what we originally put together,” said the actress, who asked that her name not be used for fear of her safety.

She said she had spoken on Wednesday to the film’s director, whose last name she said was spelled Basil. She said he told her that he made the film because he was upset with Muslims killing innocent people.

The original idea for the film, Mr. Klein said, was to lure hard-core Muslims into a screening of the film thinking they were seeing a movie celebrating Islam. “And when they came in they would see this movie and see the truth, the facts, the evidence and the proof,” he said. “So I said, yeah, that’s a good idea.”

Among the film’s promoters was Terry Jones, the Gainesville, Fla., preacher whose burning of the Koran led to widespread protests in Afghanistan. Mr. Jones said Wednesday that he has not seen the full video.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Mr. Jones on Wednesday and asked him to consider withdrawing his support for the video. Mr. Jones described the conversation as “cordial,” but said he had not decided what he would do because he had yet to see the full film.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said Mr. Klein taught combat training to members of California’s Church at Kaweah, which the center described as a “a combustible mix of guns, extreme antigovernment politics and religious extremism” and an institution that had an “obsession with Muslims.”

Warren Campbell, the pastor of the church, said that Mr. Klein had come to the congregation twice to talk about Islam. He said the law center’s report on his church was filled “with distortions and lies.” The center also said that Mr. Klein was the founder of Courageous Christians United, which conducts demonstrations outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques. Mr. Klein also has ties to the Minuteman movement.

Mr. Horn said Mr. Klein was motivated by the near-death of his son, who Mr. Horn said had served in the United States Army in Iraq and was wounded in Falluja. “That cemented Steve’s feelings about it,” he said.

Although Mr. Horn described Mr. Klein as connected to the Coptic community in Los Angeles — and Morris Sadek, the leader of a Washington-based Coptic organization, had promoted the film on the Web — Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles said he did not know of Mr. Klein. “We condemn this film,” he said. “Our Christian teaching is we have to respect people of other faiths.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Billionaire Koch Brother, A Tea Party Favorite, Supports Marriage Equality

from Metro Weekly (8/30/12):

Marriage equality supporters found a new ally in an unlikely place earlier this week.

The American billionaire and political activist David Koch, who, with his brother Charles, has funneled millions of dollars into conservative organizations bent on electing Republicans, told Politico that he supports marriage equality.

When asked if he agreed with the Republican Party’s stance on gay rights, Koch responded, “I believe in gay marriage.”

Although Mitt Romney and much of the Republican Party support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriages, Koch thinks otherwise, telling Politico, “Well, I disagree with that.”

The former 1980 vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, which is generally liberal on social issues, also broke with Romney on taxes and defense cuts, stating that the U.S. military should withdraw from the Middle East and defense spending cuts as well as tax increases should not be kept off the table.

Koch was in Tampa, Fl. as a delegate for the Republican National Convention. He said he considers himself a Republican first, despite his differing ideological views.

It was reported in May that the Koch brothers plan to give nearly $400 million by November to conservative groups set on defeating President Barack Obama in November and electing Republicans to Congress. David Koch alone is worth an estimated $25 billion.

Koch is one of several high profile Republicans that have differed with Romney on the issue of marriage equality.

Although not a supporter of gay couples’ right to marry, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a radio interview earlier this week that he thinks marriage equality is a matter best decided on the state level rather than with a constitutional amendment.

[Photo: David Koch (Courtesy of celebexperts).]