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02/04/2014

Yes, government can and should recall tainted snake oil

by Jeremy Hooper

Brad Dacus, a longtime anti-equality activist who fights anything resembling LGBT progress that comes to California, has this to say about so-called "conversion therapy" and its in-state banning:

"The government has no business invading the personal counseling rooms of American in order silence counselors from doing what they feel is their professional duty as proper and best for their patients," says Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. [ONN]

An absurd thing to say. Yes, if counselors are pushing some form of "treatment" that flies in the face of the credible science surrounding the subject, that goes against the industry standards, that obviously came to rise for political reasons, and that is found to bring actual harm to the people it is purporting to help, then yes, the government might see a need to step in and lend a hand of protection. When a discredited practice reaches such a dangerous level, it becomes a public health concern. Regulation is neither unreasonable or unexpected.

The problem is that so-called "ex-gay" therapy is so alone in its efforts that it really has no modern counterpart. It's easy for someone like Dacus to make this sound like a government overreach because it is so rare that the government has to step in and regulate something like this. For the most part, we don't live in a world where professional people are actively trying to breach the standards of their chosen field in order to implement a faith-driven, politically-skewed, provenly dangerous program that seeks to "change" a certain minority population. LGBT people are citizens are the only citizens who face this kind of broad onslaught.

But the onslaught is ongoing, and it still receives an unhealthy degree of support from notable conservative groups, media figures, politicos, and fringe offshoot groups that purport to offer "science." As long as these counselors are gong to do "what they feel is their professional duty" (to use Dacus' own words) rather than what is, in fact, the duty laid out by their profession, then they will face more and greater scrutiny. That is a fact; that is a promise.

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