The White House sent out a press release on April 10th saying the Obama administration would support a ban on ‘conversion therapy’, also known as ‘reparative therapy’, in the United States. It aims to address a range of pseudoscience therapies that want to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The therapy, largely practiced by organizations affiliated with religious ideals and institutions, also aims to influence gender identities and change other LGBT community self-chosen identities into a strictly heterosexual idea of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The American Psychological Association doesn’t see homosexuality as something that needs treatment, or needs to be fixed, so there is no standard for approving or monitoring ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘reparative therapy’ in the US.
A video, released in the press statement from the White House sites a quote etched on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. where the 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, said:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain even under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
Here is the full video.
While the stance is a powerful symbolic gesture, there is still a feeling that President Obama hasn’t fully upheld his campaign promises to make changes for LGBT rights in the US. In a Guardian write up back in 2011, Nancy Goldstein wrote about Obama during his 1st of 2 terms saying:
“Candidate Obama promised LGBT people the world in 2008, and our community provided a disproportionate amount of the money, volunteer hours and enthusiasm so crucial to his win. Now, when he and the DNC [Democratic National Committee] are back to woo us for 2012, is the time to ask for more than vague assurances of hope and change.”
The White House website lists the Obama administration’s achievements in LGBT rights prefacing it by saying their administration has gone further in protecting LGBT rights than any other US administration in history.
And internationally, only just in July of 2011 for the first time in history, did the United Nations adopt a resolution that was dedicated to advancing the basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. The New York City-headquartered United Nations has been in existence since the second World War.
Even one-time US presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, who attempted a run under the Republican party ticket and dropped out of the race soon after, is a co-owner, along with her husband, in a religious counseling practice that has been found to use elements of ‘conversion therapy’.
For more on the current struggle for better protections and respect for the LGBT community worldwide, good resources include: