Debate Forum 08/27

Debate Center:Is Governor Christie playing it straight with gay conversion therapy?

Illustration by: Dayton artist Elliot Ward
By Alex Culpepper
 Supporters of gay rights can claim another victory with the decision by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to ban what is known as gay conversion therapy. The governor made it official last week by signing legislation passed by both houses of the New Jersey Congress to outlaw conversion or “reparative” therapy on minors. It was a controversial decision but one the governor believed was necessary. California and Washington are the only other states seeking a ban on therapists performing conversion therapy.

Gay conversion therapy, as its name suggests, is intended to change the sexual orientation of homosexual people and make them heterosexual. It is not considered a mainstream psychological treatment, mostly because the American Psychological Association (APA) no longer considers homosexuality to be a mental disorder. Sigmund Freud even had patients sent to him with the hope of curing their homosexuality. He found the treatment of changing one’s sexual orientation to produce little, if any, result, and he even wrote to a patient’s mother stating that being gay “is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness.” Nonetheless, conversion treatment has found an audience, and psychologists have performed treatment during the last few decades.

Governor Christie’s decision has created some hard feelings, but opponents have not jumped on an anti-gay platform. Instead, they see this as another example of the government meddling where they should not be. Opponents view this as trampling on the rights of families to decide what is best for their children. Short of abuse, they say, the government has no business involving itself in the affairs of parents and children. They further claim the APA has ignored legitimate cases of successful conversion therapy.

Supporters of Governor Christie’s legislation say this is potentially life-saving policy. They argue conversion therapy is harmful, and the risks associated with conversion attempts are depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior and even suicide. Supporters also believe conversion therapy seeks to make an issue of something that should not be an issue because a person’s sexual orientation is not a problem, and forcing a person to feel as though they have a problem does more harm than good, especially when that person is a child.

Right now, California’s law has yet to take effect, pending a lawsuit on its constitutionality. New Jersey may face similar challenges, and so might the state of Washington when it tries to be the third state to implement a ban. Opponents will likely continue to challenge the ban as a violation of free speech and an example of unconstitutional government intrusion. Supporters of the ban will likely say children’s health is at risk, and laws need to be in place to protect their health.


Reach DCP forum moderator Alex Culpepper at


Debate Forum Question of the Week:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation banning therapists from practicing gay-to-straight conversion therapy on people under age 18. Should Ohio follow Chris Christie’s lead by banning conversion therapy, or should Ohio leave such decisions to parents?


Debate Left: ‘The right to abuse’ is not a parental right

 By Marianne Stanley


We are living at a time in history when bad things are cloaked in good words, complicating issues and misleading the general public, like President George W’s “Blue Skies Initiative” that allowed greater air pollution, and the enactment of the so-called “Patriot Act” which couldn’t be any less patriotic, demolishing our sacred American values and freedoms. And I’m sure we’re about to see all kinds of emotionally-rigged language directed at the general public about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s signing of legislation to prohibit parents from forcing their gay, or seemingly gay, children into “conversion therapy” to impose heterosexuality on them.

We’re bound to hear language like the “rights” of parents and about the state “overreaching,” stepping into “family” territory where it doesn’t belong. There will be talk of this being part of a conspiracy to destroy the integrity of the family and that only parents have the right to make decisions about their children. All of that sounds just fine and dandy. All of it is untrue.

Just as it took legislation to ban child labor and child abuse, it takes legislation to ban any parental actions that threaten the mental and emotional well-being of all children. In recent decades, America has moved far right of center thanks to the shrewd marketing of far right ideas under the guise of Christianity and patriotism. Though there is nothing about homosexuality nor about abortion (in 33 years, wouldn’t you think Christ would have had time to at least mention those in the New Testament?), the political powers of the Right have cleverly clothed their talking points in the garments of religiosity in order to garner votes at the expense of the beliefs and rights of the majority of Americans, and at the expense of our unequivocal Constitutional mandate to keep church and state separate.

There was good reason for that, as we’re now seeing all across this country as Republicans and the Tea Party keep the pressure up under the pretense of Christianity to destroy the seminal rights of the poor, of women, and of all minorities through an aggressive and non-stop assault on voting rights, reproductive rights, the right to unionize, the right to a free quality public education, the right to be safe and secure in our homes, the right to privacy, the right to assemble peaceably, the right to redress grievances against government, the right of a free press, the right to be presumed innocent, the right to free speech and the list goes on and on.

This is all happening lightning-fast and in scary ways. Police use tasers on old women, pregnant women, autistic or mentally ill people and even suicidal teens, barging into private homes in combat gear without valid cause and with excessive brutality. SWAT teams appear in residential neighborhoods for domestic disputes and minor drug “offenses.”  It’s time to call a halt. It’s time to get government out of all the wrong places and into its rightful place – that of overseer of the common good, the well-being of the majority rather than as protector of the elite minority who are destroying us and much of our world today without cause or remorse.

There’s so much bad legislation out there that it was actually startling to hear that a good bill, a common sense bill, has actually been signed into law. Governor Christie, in signing this legislation, shows himself to be his own person, a man of character. We need many more politicians of his ilk. Ohio Governor John Kasich would be wise to follow suit. We desperately need those who stand for what is good and right and just, rather than what is trending under the undue influence of those who seek to judge and to hate and to limit freedoms under the guise of godliness.

“Parents,” “mother,” “father,” “family” … these words are used to snare people emotionally. But moms and dads kill their own children at the rate of more than 5 a day in the U.S. and reports of parental child abuse come in every 10 seconds to the tune of 6 million children each year (source: NCANDS, National Abuse and Neglect Data System). The U.S. has the greatest child abuse rate of any industrialized nation, which isn’t surprising considering that poverty is closely tied to child abuse and America has abandoned its middle and lower classes, leaving tens of millions of the once-middle-class in poverty and yanking support for its poorest.

Parental rights are not above the law; those rights can be judicially severed if the parent is found to be unfit or abusive. Forcing children to reject themselves as they are, telling them their natural feelings and leanings are bad and pressuring them to lie to others and to themselves destroys them by attacking them at their core identity.

Some readers may still remember those times when left-handedness was seen as an aberration that needed to be “fixed” and its attendant trauma to those children. We need to remember who we all really are – souls capable of great love and great accomplishment who are bound together spiritually. Judging, hating, forcing, hurting others cannot bring us closer to an all-loving God, nor can it do anything other than make us our smallest, ugliest selves rather than our most expansive, happiest and highest selves. Governor Christie – interesting name, no?!? – used his signing arm to protect and embrace our most vulnerable. That’s my kind of guy!

Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing through middle and high school. She can be reached at


Debate Right: Conventional wisdom strikes again


By: By Dave Westbrock


Here it is, 2013, and yet another significant threat to family sovereignty and freedom has come with Governor Christie’s signing of a ban on gay conversion therapy. Thirty years ago, aside from child abuse, parents were free to make decisions on behalf of their minor children. This included their education, social interactions and sustenance. Before believing that this is somehow anti-human rights, consider the family is the basic social unit of society. No, it does not take a village to raise a family – the ideal is a loving and nutritive mother and father. Most studies show alternatives are just not as good. Now comes a state government that decides parental control is abusive if a child determines they are gay. Of course, the state legislature and New Jersey governor are far superior to any parent in determining what is best for their minor child.

One can locate lots of negative findings, including one quoted by Chris Christie, the expert, in a statement by the American Psychological Association (APA). In part, their statement reads, “homosexuality is not mental disorder.” Taking this statement as true, it does not explain higher psychiatric illness rates in gays. In one study (Harrell, 1999), suicide rates and suicidal ideation were found to be five times higher in twin studies comparing gay to their heterosexual twin. Lesbians have double the rate of psychological problems over a lifetime compared to heterosexual women. Two additional studies revealed higher rates of substance abuse, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression. Additionally, they state, “Psychologists respect the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality and autonomy.” No one should expect this to be true in the age of the NSA and Big Brother snoopers. Additionally, the APA places themselves in a position superior to a good mother and father – statism and social totalitarianism.

Dr. William Dreikorn noted in his doctoral thesis that 87 percent of participants in a survey had a mother described as close, controlling and overbearing. Other factors commonly expressed included the perception of poor sports ability and a cold, distant father. Seventy-three percent stated greatly reduced homosexual feelings as a result of counseling. Most participants did not feel cured by counseling, but changed.

Misconceptions about homosexuality are widespread. In general surveys, Americans estimate the prevalence to be 20-25 percent. The National Opinion Research Center in Chicago, which has studied this issue for 30 years, surveyed the incidence of LBGT to be 2 percent, which has remained unchanged since the early ’80s. Aside from AIDS (U.S. expenditures were $23.3 billion in 2008), the infectious disease curse of the ’80s, death rates have only in the last decade improved with improvements in pharmacology. Further, with regard to STDs, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 63 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases occurred in men who have sex with men. Although thought to be rare, these rising prevalence rates are alarming. The attack rate of Hepatitis A in a British Medical Journal article in homosexual men was found to be 14 percent, and 42 percent of tested study subjects were found to have Hepatitis A antibodies – evidence of previous infection. Additionally, Hepatitis C rates are much higher in homosexual men, carrying a higher rate of more prolonged and severe chronic hepatitis.

In medical practice, it is commonplace and ethical to correct unhealthy behaviors. For instance, we encourage every patient to stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight or avoid excessive alcohol when the situation arises. It is, in fact, incumbent on the physician to do so. Homosexual behavior, unfortunately, is an exception because it is the cause célèbre of this decade. Despite growing “acceptance” of legal guarantees, especially in the population under 30, how many would be so tolerant if they knew the medical and economic consequences?

The Hollywood population and leftist politicians, including the president, celebrate gay lifestyles and gay rights in continuing and persistent public fora and as part of an agenda celebrating diversity. Despite this celebration, I wonder how many of them would choose LGBT for their son or daughter to take up as opposed to one of a straight life.

Given that, as reviewed above, it borders on child abuse, then for parents not to consider re-directing their minor child rather than accepting the banning of conversion therapy. The toleration of the gay lifestyle does not require Americans to condone or encourage it. It is not a basic human right guaranteed by the Constitution or by natural law. This is in no way to demean or personally discriminate against homosexuality. Group rights are simply not Constitutional guarantees. Individual rights are.

While very few these days think there should be discrimination against gays, and it is politically popular to travel with the herd, substantive research should not be ignored.

Chris Christie has shown himself to be just another anti-family peon of big government. It is obvious that this is his way to win re-election by a big margin to launch his bid for the White House in 2016. Unfortunately, he is betraying the families and children of New Jersey.

There is a growing encroachment of government and Big Brother as a substitute for family values and the rights of parents. This can only be reversed by respecting individual and family rights.


Dr. Westbrock has been in private medical practice for 35 years. He was the Republican candidate for the U.S House of Representatives in 1994 and 1996. He has written and lectured extensively on the subject of health care reform and health care policy. He can be reached at









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