Shaw: Gay conversion therapy is legalized torture
FARGO — Shame on Minnesota Senate Republicans for killing a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors and vulnerable adults. That discredited “therapy” is an attempt to turn gay people into straight people. Techniques include electric shocks, inducing vomiting, hypnosis, and psychoanalytic efforts to reduce same-sex attraction. The misguided thinking behind such therapy is that homosexuality is a mental illness or a choice. It is not.
There are two main reasons this therapy should be banned: It doesn’t work and it’s dangerous. It is legalized torture. Those on the receiving end are often depressed, suicidal, feel ashamed and lose self-esteem. The treatment has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the United States.
Now, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have such bans. In the Minnesota Senate, which Republicans have majority control of, the ban was defeated 34-30. Not one Republican senator voted in favor of the ban.
The Republican majority leader is Sen. Paul Gazelka, who shamefully threw his daughter under the bus. Gazelka’s daughter, Genna Gazelka, 30, is a lesbian. Gazelka sent his daughter to gay conversion therapy when she was a teenager. Genna Gazelka told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that conversion therapy is “harassment” and “torture.” Paul Gazelka turned his back on his daughter and worked to defeat the ban.
Sadly, this not an obscure treatment. OutFront Minnesota says there are at least a dozen licensed clinics in Minnesota that practice conversion therapy. The Williams Institute found that an astounding 700,000 Americans have undergone that therapy.
One of them is 25-year-old Jory Miller. He grew up on a farm in Deering, N.D., about 30 miles north of Minot. Miller was afraid to tell anyone he is gay. When he was 15, he was sent every week for conversion therapy with a pastor in Minot.
“I was told my same-sex attraction was a perversion and an illness,” Miller said. “I was told I could get better with a normal Christian lifestyle.”
Miller says the pastor questioned whether he had been sexually abused, and encouraged him to interact with more girls, attend church, and read the Bible. None of that worked, but it did severely damage Miller’s mental health.
“I felt shame and guilt,” Miller said. “I was scared and alone. I thought of suicide. I thought I’d be better off dead if I was sick and couldn’t get better.”
Miller has since become an outspoken advocate against gay conversion therapy, and is stunned the Minnesota Senate defeated it.
“It’s a delusional and manipulative mind game,” Miller said. “It’s psychological torture on a child’s mind. It tries to fix something that isn’t broken. Kids behind me shouldn’t feel like I did. This must stop.”
Indeed, no one should go through what Miller went through. Minnesota Senate Republicans had a golden opportunity to send a strong message supporting love, acceptance and science. Instead, they chose homophobia, mental health damage, and ignorance.