Uganda's President says gays should not be harassed

He said this in the context that he would not bow to British pressure. However, he seems to be saying live and let live.

The President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni says he is not moved by the threats issued by the British Prime Minister James Cameroon regarding the reduction of foreign aid to countries that have laws punishing homosexuality.
Museveni, while meeting the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe at State House Entebbe says Uganda shall not promote such acts of homosexuality under any circumstances.
Early this week, the U.K Government stated that it will deduct the aid to Uganda because of its intention to pass a law that will be against homosexuals’ rights.
Museveni however says his government shall not harass homosexuals because they have lived well in Uganda for ages even before colonization. He says they should practice their acts in private and not in the limelight.
Meanwhile, the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe says Togo is a homosexual free state.
Gnassingbe has ended his 4 day state visit to Uganda by hailing Uganda for its economical development.

Yesterday, I spoke with a Parliamentary Spokesperson who told me that the Business committee had not met to decide the agenda for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

First study to refer to ex-gays discredited

In 2000, I presented a paper at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association outlining studies which referred to ex-gays, i.e., people who rejected gay as an identity for religious reasons. That presentation was part of a larger symposium organized by Mark Yarhouse and Doug Haldeman on religious and GLB issues. In 2002, that paper was published in the APA journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.* That was the same year I was given the Freud Award at the NARTH conference.
In that paper, I summarized a study by psychiatrist E. Mansell Pattison and his wife Myrna Loy Pattison, titled “‘Ex-gays’: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals.” The Pattisons interviewed 11 men in the Melodyland church in Anaheim, CA who claimed to have changed from gay to straight. One of those men was frequent commenter here Michael Bussee. Another was Gary Cooper, the man who left that ministry and Exodus with Bussee when they both acknowledged that they had not changed their orientation. In other words, two of the 11 had not changed at all.
Today, on the Religion Dispatches website, I describe that study in more detail and interview Michael Bussee about his participation. I encourage you to go read it and comment here or there.
The study continues to be used by NARTH as well as other groups to claim sexual reorientation works. The problems with the study provide more evidence that NARTH’s use of old data (125 year landscape review) is flawed.
*Throckmorton, W. (2002). Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change process for ex-gays. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33, 242-248.

Alan Osmond channels NARTH

One member of the very talented Osmond family has taken up homosexuality as an interest. Huffington Post today posted about an article on Osmond’s website as if the article was a recent one. However, apparently it was posted in July.  And the piece was not actually written by Osmond, but by Dean Byrd, NARTH board member and past-president in 1999.
In this article that Osmond quotes as an authority, Byrd wrote:

Other researchers note treatment success rates that exceed 50 percent, which is similar to the success rates for treating other difficulties.

Really? One of the studies that quoted a 50% cure rate was reported in 1967 by Harvey Kaye and the Society for Medical Psychoanalysis. However, Dr. Kaye recently told me that the study was wrong and discredited.
Despite dwindling influence among professionals (the recent conference in AZ only drew 70-80 people), NARTH continues to find support among lay people such as here in the case of Osmond. Since NARTH is mostly lay people, I guess that makes sense.

NARTH says Francis Collins is mistaken about his own work

Let’s start at the beginning of this story.
On April 4, 2007, Dean Byrd posted an article on the NARTH website titled, “‘Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired,’ Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head Of The Human Genome Project” In this article, Byrd quotes from Collins book, The Language of God, citing Collins views of the genetics and homosexuality. In it, Byrd wrote:

As Dr. Collins would agree, environment can influence gene expression, and free will determines the response to whatever predispositions might be present.
Dr. Collins succinctly reviewed the research on homosexuality and offers the following: “An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20% (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.”
Dr. Collins noted that environment, particularly childhood experiences as well as the role of free will choices affect all of us in profound ways. As researchers discover increasing levels of molecular detail about inherited factors that underlie our personalities, it’s critical that such data be used to illuminate, not provide support to idealogues.

On May 17, 2007, the editor of Ex-gay Watch, David Roberts, wrote an email to Collins asking him if Byrd’s article accurately represented Collins’ views. (The entire correspondence can be reviewed at this link.)
On May 20, 2007, Collins wrote back to Roberts saying about the Byrd article:

The words quoted by NARTH all come from the Appendix to my book “The Language of God” (pp. 260-263), but have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the meaning to refer back to the original text.
The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.

On September 15, 2008, Greg Quinlan of PFOX told OneNewsNow that the human genome had been mapped and there was no genetic cause for homosexuality. Quinlan attributed this information to Francis Collins, seeming to paraphrase the NARTH article.
On September 19, 2008, Roberts again wrote to Collins to ask him to verify that the prior statement about Byrd’s misleading use of his views was indeed given by Collins.
On September 20, 2008, Collins wrote back to Roberts saying

Thanks for the heads up. I am truly sorry to hear that there is a continuing effort by Mr. Quinlan and others to distort this information about genetic factors in homosexuality. The facts have not changed since the e-mail message I sent you on May 20, 2007.
Regards, Francis Collins

On September 21, 2008, Roberts wrote back to Collins and asked him to copy me in the email exchange. Roberts did this because Quinlan accused Roberts of making fraudulent claims about Collins. Feeling I could be objective, Roberts wanted Collins to include me in the email loop given that I am not associated with any gay advocacy groups. I had also written Collins to verify the statements made on Roberts’ blog.
On September 21, 2008, Collins wrote back with the following message:

Hello David and Warren,
I am happy to confirm that these e-mail communications from May 2007 and yesterday are indeed authentic, and represent my best effort at summarzing what we know and what we don’t know about genetic factors in male homosexuality. I appreciate your continuing efforts to correct misstatements that seem to be circulating on the internet.
Regards, Francis Collins

This background is important in order to put NARTH’s response to Collins into context. Earlier this year, NARTH posted an article attacking David Roberts with the charge that Roberts misled Collins. NARTH did not like Collins response to Roberts and NARTH blamed Roberts for Collins’ response.
After the NARTH article came out, Roberts conducted a Freedom of Information Act request to find correspondence between the NARTH and Collins. As the result of his request, he received an undated letter sent from NARTH’s President Julie Hamilton to Collins. The letter is here and is summarized at XGW.
In this letter, Hamilton blames Roberts and me for Collins response to Byrd’s article. Is it really possible that Roberts and I persuaded the Director of the National Institutes of Health and one of the premiere scientists of our time to misread Byrd’s article? About NARTH’s letter, Roberts says,

In it, Collins is treated more like a doddering old man than the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Even though we sent a link to the original article with our email to Collins, and it is clear from his reply that he read it, Hamilton encloses a copy noting “Although Warren Throckmorton [see this post to see where he comes in] and David Roberts led you to believe otherwise, your statements were not misrepresented by NARTH.”  No, Dr. Collins, regardless of what you think, you do agree with us — sheer arrogance.

What is NARTH saying about Dr. Collins when they tell him that he was persuaded to misunderstand his own book? It appears that NARTH will not accept that Collins means what he says. Counting his response to the American College of Pediatricians (several NARTH board members are affiliated with this group), he has spoken out three times about the way NARTH has characterized his views. NARTH’s response is to his continue to blame the messengers.
For more, see

Francis Collins rebukes the American College of Pediatricians: A closer look

Skip Narth, read Collins – UPDATED with NARTH statement

 

NARTH: We're not anti-gay, we just have anti-gay speakers at our conference

Julie Hamilton says NARTH is not homophobic with a straight face.

The reporter should have asked why they had non-researchers Michael Brown and Sharon Slater speak.

Local media coverage of the NARTH conference

The Phoenix Fox affiliate filed a report late yesterday. According to the reporter NARTH claims to be a non-religious group.

NARTH: Gays Can Get Therapy to Become Straight: MyFoxPHOENIX.com

Perhaps Julie Hamilton did not say that NARTH was non-religious but the reporter said:

NARTH denies it has anything to do with Christian groups who believe homosexuality can be reversed.

To which, Julie Hamilton said.

“NARTH is a scientific organization. We are dedicated to understanding the research behind the issue of homosexuality,” said Hamilton.

As a former participant in NARTH conferences, I can say via first hand information that religious groups are well represented at NARTH. NARTH has always been considered a partner of religious groups such as Focus on the Family.
Also, who recommends NARTH besides religious groups? In what setting is someone likely to learn of the existence of NARTH? And as noted here recently, NARTH’s membership is made up primarily of non-professionals. Only about a quarter of the membership have professional credentials.
Furthermore, if NARTH is a scientific organization dedicated to research, then why have two anti-gay religious activists been given speaking time?
So maybe Julie Hamilton didn’t actually say NARTH has nothing to do with Christian groups, but if she did or implied it, I suspect that would be a surprise to at least three-quarters of NARTH members.

A new test of orthodoxy

Yesterday, the information arm of the American Family Association, OneNewsNow published an article about my views on change of sexual orientation.  The information on the matter came from Peter LaBarbera who said

“But in the last few years, he’s basically become a pro-gay advocate who discredits the idea of change for most homosexuals,” LaBarbera explains. “He grants the idea that they can change, but he says change is very rare.
“So effectively, Warren Throckmorton has become a very useful advocate for the homosexual side because he can claim to be an evangelical and yet he’s undermining scriptural truth.”

As I understand this argument, I am wrong to claim to be an evangelical because I believe that categorical change in sexual attractions, especially for men, is rare. In addition such a belief is in itself “pro-homosexual advocacy.”
LaBarbera adds that

Christians know people can leave the lifestyle, and that through Christ, many thousands have. So he says Throckmorton’s message — that change is near impossible — is contrary to Christian thinking.

Here we have a test of orthodoxy – something that must be believed in order to be considered a Christian. In my tradition, faith in the redeeming mission of Christ is the test of faith. However, in the new orthodoxy of some in the Christian right, one must believe certain things about gays in order to be consider a Christian.
On the points raised by the ONN article, I observe that LaBarbera conflates behavior and inclination. He says I don’t think people can “leave the lifestyle” because I think categorical change of sexual attractions is rare and complex. While his description of behavior change is crude and stereotypical, I disagree with his assessment of me. I do believe that people change their behavior. They do so for a variety of reasons but in the context of this controversy, some do in order to seek conformity to their religious beliefs. That this happens is not in doubt by any researcher, pro-gay or not, that I know. The APA in their 2009 Task Force report acknowledged this and even noted that finding congruence can lead to certain positive outcomes.
However, gay and bisexual people who change their behavior infrequently lose their same-sex attractions, no matter how earnestly they pray. In my work as well as other studies, heterosexually married gay and lesbian people do not demonstrate change in attractions on average, even as they demonstrate devotion to their marriages. My critics can keep on criticizing but they have not been able to address the evidence which does not cut in their favor.
If I need to apologize for something, it is that I misled evangelicals for several years on the matter of sexual orientation. I did not intend to do so. When I made the documentary I Do Exist, I really believed the stories told. I know the people making the video did as well. I believed my clients; I believed people who told me they changed completely. In hindsight, I acknowledge that my work was complicated by the culture war. I now think the culture war is a significant stumbling block for the church.
From that time, there are a handful of people who continue to say they have changed in a comprehensive way. Many however, have acknowledged that their attractions have shifted within a range but have not really changed from one category to another. My view is that these stories are all interesting and that I desire to take people where they are and just work out a way that helps them live with integrity.
Who knows, maybe I will shift my views in different ways in the future. However, I hope it will be in response to evidence, not in order to fit into a man made definition of orthodoxy. In the mean time, I invite critics to simply deal with the evidence.