Somebody with legal authority finally said it: People who say homosexuality is a disorder they can fix—for a small fee, of course—aren't just appalling but also full of shit.
NJ.com reports that earlier this week, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. basically ruled that if you tell people being gay is a treatable mental illness, you're a goddamn fraudster. Also verboten: touting your "success rates," because "there is no factual basis for calculating these statistics." Bariso wrote, "It is a misrepresentation in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, in advertising or selling conversion therapy services to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease (or) disorder."
This ruling is a part of a broader lawsuit brought by several gay men against JONAH, a.k.a. Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. Slate has more background on the disturbing allegations here, and Mother Jones says Bariso's stance means that the defendants can't trot out a series of "experts" to argue their therapies are totally worthwhile. In other words, the judge denied the defendants' request of "gotta hear both sides":
"The theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel—but like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it—instead is outdated and refuted," he wrote. "The overwhelming weight of scientific authority concludes that homosexuality is not a disorder or abnormal. The universal acceptance of that conclusions—save for outliers such as JONAH—requires that any expert opinions to the contrary must be barred."
The case is not over—they've yet to reach the trial by jury portion of the suit. Plus, the wording of the judge's decision is pretty specific, so if a jury decides JONAH was just promising "change" rather than treatment for a mental disorder, it sounds like they could skate. But as you can see from their comments to NJ.com, the ruling leaves JONAH's lawyers relying on some pretty thin procedural arguments:
Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund that is representing JONAH, said he remains confident a jury will side with his clients "who were only trying to help people."
JONAH never made money from the treatment, but rather referred clients to therapists who charged for their services, LiMandri said. At no time did they "advertise" success rates — estimated as one-third successful, one-third somewhat beneficial, and one-third unsuccessful, he said. "If they ask, they will be told. I don't see that as a violation of the consumer fraud act."
Regardless of the case's outcome: thanks to this ruling, gay conversion therapists across the country should be sweating their job security.
Image via ToskanaINC/Shutterstock.