Glenn T. Stanton
Glenn T. Stanton explains his latest “Eureka!”

Glenn T. Stanton is a spokes-bot for Focus on the Family. He is also a poseur. Or do you find his intellect to be thoroughly startling? People forget just how profoundly homophobic Stanton is. In his 2004 book opposing marriage-equality and gay parenting Stanton asks a number of rhetorical questions:

  • Are homosexuals “born gay?”
  • Is homosexuality “normal and natural?”
  • Can homosexuals change their sexual orientation?
  • Do all homosexuals want to get married?

And just how do you think Stanton answers each of those questions? Your presumptions are probably accurate. Today Stanton is the same obnoxious religious zealot that he was when he wrote that book. I am sure that his constituency finds this stuff educational and entertaining. Of course they find entertainment in lengthy sermons too.

These days, Stanton makes an effort to appear to be more moderate; even secular. It is an intellectually dishonest pursuit that usually crumbles under scrutiny. In order to promulgate his religiously formed opinions he will search through Google Scholar and then employ selective observation to write a pretentious polemic with plenty of citations. It’s a hobby.  Stanton’s outlets of choice include the very scholarly Witherspoon Institute and The Federalist.

Mr. Stanton does not like California’s AB-2943.

Stanton’s latest gush of advocacy is titled: Here’s The Biggest Legal Flaw In California’s Sexual Orientation Therapy Ban. The subtitle reads:

The problem is this: academics and lawyers don’t agree on what ‘sexual orientation’ actually is. The term is infamously ambiguous.

“Infamously” mind you. Stanton’s claim is that sexual orientation is not defined in the measure. Were he not convinced of that crucial omission Stanton would find some other — supposedly secular — reason to oppose the bill. We can know this to a reasonable certainty because Stanton has a history.

A very small sample of that history includes Stanton’s assertion that gender dysphoria is comparable to body integrity disorder. Similar to the current post, Stanton has claimed that nobody really knows what gender identity means. He has also claimed that bigotry does not harm LGBT people.

Getting back to the current post:

California’s Assembly Bill 2943 is a malicious and terribly ill-conceived piece of legislation, and it has a very real chance of becoming law. The bill establishes that “sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s” legal code. Senate Bill 1172, passed in 2012, outlaws such help for any minor.

Malicious? Malicious means that there is an intent to do harm. According to my Stanton-to-English dictionary, that means that the measure is designed to punish Christians. Stanton cannot help himself.

Summit Ministries, a widely respected national organization teaching a Christian worldview to students, has decided to cancel its summer classes in California. Why? Simply because Summit teaches the same sexual ethic Jesus taught, which some interpretations of this law will punish.

That is just idiotic and it is evidence only of the conservative Christian need to profess that they are being persecuted and victimized. It is self-manufactured oppression. There was no reason for Summit Ministries to cancel their meetings. It also pisses me off given the very real oppression of LGBT people by Stanton and his ilk.

This bill will be absolute death to essential freedoms of speech, dissent, professional conviction and practice of clinicians, as well as the personal autonomy and self-determination of citizens who desire to be set free from certain unwanted sexual desires. This, of course, is exactly the drafters’ motivation, dressed in the shabby clothes of compassion.

If we read that carefully then, apparently, sexual orientation is understood after all. Furthermore, what Stanton is claiming is that the intent of the bill is to prevent gay people from becoming straight. No Mr. Stanton. The intent of the bill is to prevent people from purchasing something that is ineffective, potentially harmful and consumer fraud. Stanton’s piece is loaded with citations. Noticeably absent is any citation to research in support of conversion therapy. As an article of faith, Stanton believes that people can be talked out of being gay or having gender dysphoria.

Perhaps Mr. Stanton might consent to an experiment. Let’s see if he can be talked into being gay. Come to think of it, that is a terrible idea.

Stanton also makes claims that he cannot substantiate:

… the Golden State’s legislature—and any other legislation on the issue, such as local sexual orientation and gender identity ordinances or similar laws passed in other states—merely assumes it means being either heterosexual or homosexual. It does not. No respected scholar on this topic, regardless of personal conviction or ideology, defines sexual orientation so simplistically.

That is incorrect and we can all go home now. The bill is quite specific rather than proposing assumptions:

Contemporary science recognizes that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, disorder, or illness.

The APA certainly knows what sexual orientation means and how it is characterized in peer-reviewed literature and the following is incorporated into the bill text:

The American Psychological Association convened the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. The task force conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts and issued a report in 2009. The task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts can pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources.

The American Psychiatric Association is quite specific and this is incorporated into the bill:

Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or ‘repair’ homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of ‘cures’ are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, ‘reparative’ therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure.

The AMA opinion is incorporated into the bill with specificity:

Aversion therapy (a behavioral or medical intervention which pairs unwanted behavior, in this case, homosexual behavior, with unpleasant sensations or aversive consequences) is no longer recommended for gay men and lesbians. Through psychotherapy, gay men and lesbians can become comfortable with their sexual orientation and understand the societal response to it.

The National Association of Social Workers, incorporated into the bill:

Social stigmatization of lesbian, gay and bisexual people is widespread and is a primary motivating factor in leading some people to seek sexual orientation changes

There are 41 references to sexual orientation in the bill and none of them are, in any way, ambiguous. It is also abundantly clear exactly who the bill is designed to protect:

California has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Stanton wanders off into the usual homophobia:

First, we must recognize that homosexuality is not the thing we are led to believe it is. Even after exhaustive, diverse, and very sophisticated efforts, no science has found that same-sex attraction is innate, an actual thing, rooted in nature. The “born-that-way” assumption is simply that, an assumption born of political desire and strategy. It has only taken on the veneer of “truth” by confident repetition. Even the hyper-gay-affirming American Psychological Association admits:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.

The above is intended to persuade people that sexual orientation is a choice. He claims that our understanding about homosexuality is formed through “political desire and strategy.” Apparently it is all some conspiracy. The truth is that our understanding of sexual orientation comes from medical science based on evidence. False mythology about sexual orientation comes from religious crackpots and it is based on faith. Mr. Stanton has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that he is one of those religious crackpots.

Moreover, the above quote consists of a very small portion of a pamphlet about sexual orientation. Stanton left off the last sentence of the quoted paragraph which reads “Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”

Stanton goes even further:

The “this-is-just-what-I-am” myth collides with reality in breathtaking ways. For example, self-identified lesbians are shown to have tremendously high unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. There is only one reason for this: so-called lesbians are curiously having lots of baby-making sex.

Few lesbians are actually lesbians, as the popular understanding has it. …

This is medium rare bullshit prepared sous vide and subsequently seared with a kitchen torch. Yum! I have already written about this. Repeating myself here is pointless.

Then come the Google Scholar cites which Stanton does not understand. I’ll just deal with just a couple of these:

Professor Randall Sell, a leading scholar in the study of sexual orientation, was asked by PBS’s “Frontline” to provide their viewers a reliable definition of sexual orientation. He told them, “At present it is clear that researchers are confused as to what they are studying when they assess sexual orientation in their research …Today’s preferred terms and the term ‘sexual orientation’ itself have a wide variety of definitions in the literature…”

Actually Dr. Sell provides a somewhat lengthy excerpt from an article that he published in 1997 to The Archives of Sexual Behavior. His point is that researchers use different methods of determining sexual orientation which Stanton grossly misrepresents. Stanton’s three ellipses (highlighted in yellow) replace 309 words (2,176 characters) which add considerable context. Among the sentences omitted is this: “Today the terms heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay and lesbian), and bisexual are the most commonly used terms by researchers to describe sexual orientations.” It’s not terribly confusing and most of us know that sexual orientation means the romantic attraction to men, women, both or neither.

One more bit of the bat and I am not addressing a substantial amount of content including the notion that polyamory and polygamy are sexual orientations. Somehow I cannot find any reference to that in AB-2943. Did they err? Stanton being Stanton he found two cites to pedophilia as a sexual orientation including this:

A professor in the school of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, writing in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, explains that for important clinical reasons “removing the term [from the DSM-V] in response to public criticism would be a mistake.” He contends that “experiencing ongoing sexual attractions to prepubescent children is, in essence, a form of sexual orientation …” and that it is essential for clinicians to distinguish between the psychiatric and criminal aspects of this orientation.

Stanton would like us to believe that AB-2943 would prevent a psychiatrist from treating a pedophile because pedophilia is a form of sexual orientation. The bill clearly states that sexual orientation change efforts do not include “interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct.”

Mr. Stanton is trying to muddy the waters. He would like this bill not to pass because he believes that sexual orientation is a choice that can be “corrected.” He also believes, as he stated, that this has malicious intent, presumably to persecute Christians.

I previously wrote that the reaction to this California measure is very similar to the reaction when Congress was considering the hate crimes act. Christians were absolutely convinced that the intent was to lock up pastors. They claimed that pastors preaching the gospel would be prosecuted. They tried to muddy the waters by claiming that the bill lacked an adequate definition of what a hate crime is. They worked themselves into an irrational frenzy.

Conservative Christians are predisposed to view themselves as victims. A great deal of anti-LGBT animus is constructed to fulfill that purpose. Like sharks who must perpetually swim to stay alive, Stanton needs a constant stream of enemies to feel persecuted. Sometimes I think that these folks need to be miserable in order to be happy. Of course I am not a shrink — and Mr. Stanton is certainly no scholar.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.