Minority voices

Sexuality | Testimony from opponents to California’s ‘conversion therapy’ ban
by Jim Long & Marvin Olasky
Posted 6/16/18, 07:44 am

The cover story in WORLD’s June 30, 2018 issue shows how a bill to ban “conversion therapy” (sometimes called “reparative therapy”) in California, even for consenting adults, is in a pipeline to passage. Since press coverage has been biased in favor of the bill, here are a few voices of opposition from testimony before the California Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee.

David Pickup, licensed therapist

(Warning: Some material in this testimony may be unsuitable for younger readers.)

Almost all my clients are receiving therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions caused by emotional and/or sexual abuse in childhood and beyond. …  I am greatly saddened today, because this bill says that my clients don’t exist. This bill says that I don’t exist. This bill says what I do is fraud and doesn’t work.

And worse, this bill and the witnesses you heard just a few minutes ago intimate or actually claim that we use electro-shock and shaming therapies, which is not only offensive, it’s ludicrous at best. If you notice, they didn’t give you any names of these people who supposedly created these horrors. I would ask, respectfully, the committee to ask for people so we can get rid of those licensed therapists (if they exist) and take away their licenses or throw them into jail for doing such horrible things.

Authentic reparative therapy helped save my life. I’m a heterosexual man, but at 5 years old, I was playing “hide and seek” with neighbors when I was drawn into a tent by a young man who turned out to be a pedophile. … These experiences were only one of the abuses that led to homosexual feelings, and as an adult, when I entered into professional therapy, my homosexual feelings disappeared over a period of years and my sexual feelings for women greatly increased due to licensed psychotherapy. I … resolved the root causes of these feelings, which is the case for every single real client who identifies with this therapy. This is not inborn for these folks.

In California, there are hundreds of men who have faced the same basic issues and experienced actual emotional change—not just behavioral change. Every single client who comes into my office feels and believes that their homosexuality was not genetic.

I’m also deeply offended, with all due respect, because the authors of this bill and their witnesses have never contacted real reparative therapists or their clients to ask how therapeutic change works and to at least know what this bill is trying to make illegal.

Why haven’t they done that?

Pickup concluded that if Assembly Bill 2943 becomes law, “Our clients who report change in sexual feelings, report dissipation of depression (and) anxiety, report feeling wonderful because their authentic selves have arisen through therapy … will no doubt experience more depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. … The intolerance presented here by taking away people’s rights for therapy will destroy their lives. Everyone here in opposition respects, very much respects, LGBT persons for having the right to believe and live authentically. This bill robs all the rest of us of the same respect.”

Anne Paulk, head of Restored Hope Network

It’s not the entire community, but there are some people who are troubled by their same sex attraction and surrounded by a sea of witnesses that say, “You must embrace this.” They feel despondent and suicidal. I’ve had three such individuals recently come to me saying, “You gave us the first hope in a long time.” And it’s a hope that I personally experienced because of dealing with my own unwanted same-sex attraction. … I perhaps would have committed suicide. … I was very troubled by what I was doing and everybody around me was affirming it.

Joseph Nicolosi Jr., licensed therapist testifying on behalf of the National Task Force for Therapy Equality

For the past nine years, I have offered therapy to countless individuals who are seeking therapeutic help to find answers to questions over same sex attraction and gender identity confusion. My practice was founded by my father who helped thousands of people over the 40-year span of his career.

In our work, the client is in the driver’s seat. He sets his own goals, which the therapist helps him achieve. We use evidence-based treatment interventions—the same methods used by other clinics throughout the world to treat trauma and sexual addiction. As those underlying dynamics are resolved, the client’s unwanted same-sex feelings often diminish as a result. But AB 2943 threatens the ability of my clients to continue to seek and obtain the help they want through its ban on the vaguely defined “practice of sexual orientation change efforts” or “conversion therapy.” The bill would potentially jeopardize the well-respected and scientifically sound treatments that myself and many licensed professionals have been offering to willing adults for decades.

This bill arguably compels the therapist to violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by prohibiting a therapist from offering certain services to LGBT individuals that he offers to heterosexual clients. In this sense, the legislation demands discrimination based on sexual orientation. … I have a better solution. How about we let adults make their own decisions about what goals and objectives they want to pursue in therapy? The state has no business telling someone their therapy goals are illegal.

Three (of many) others

Licensed clinical psychologist Laura Haynes: “Several rigorous studies … have established that same-sex attraction, behavior, and identity—all three—change.”

Elizabeth Woning of Equipped to Love, from Redding, Calif.: “I’m a former lesbian and I oppose this bill for its infringement on countless women’s rights to speak openly and seek healing from life’s experiences.”

Ken Williams, also from Equipped to Love and self-identified as “formerly gay”: “I oppose this bill because my four children thank me that I did benefit from all the psychotherapy and resources.”

Testimony before the California Senate Judiciary Committee on June 12, 2018

For more than an hour, scores of persons queued up to state their opposition to AB 2943. They received time only to give their names, associations, and reasons for opposition. Many wore black T-shirts with white lettering proclaiming, “Changed.” Several sported stickers: “My Faith is NOT a Fraud” and “Change is Real.”

David Reese of Living Letters Ministries said, “I came out of homosexuality caused by molestation. I received counseling to change my sexuality, and I strongly oppose this legislation.”

Orange County resident Amy West said, “I escaped Vietnam for America because we have freedom of speech and religion.”

Others who testified offered comments such as, “I’m a former gay married to my wife 29 years and I strongly oppose this bill,” and “I was radically set free from the lesbian lifestyle and I urge you not to take away the choices, and the freedoms, and the rights of the lesbian and gay community.”

The June 12 hearing came on the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Diego, referred to the tragedy and said, “Hatred against our community and the desire to eradicate us unfortunately continues.” But two of the first witnesses opposing AB 2943 were Pulse survivors.

“It was a miracle that I’m alive,” said Angel Colon, shot six times at Pulse. “I found freedom in being able to choose my lifestyle.”

Luis Javier-Ruiz was shot multiple times during the massacre that left 49 dead. “I should have been number 50! … Going through old pictures of the night of Pulse, I remember my struggles of perversion, heavy drinking to drown out everything, and having promiscuous sex that led to HIV. My struggles were real! The enemy had its grip, and now God has taken me from that moment and has given me Christ.”

For more insight into the possibilities of change, see the “And yet it moves” sidebar in WORLD’s new issue. Galileo in 1633, commanded not to say the Earth moves around the sun, may nevertheless have whispered in Italian, “e pur si muove”—and yet it moves. Almost four centuries later, California legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown are on the verge of commanding counselors never to say sexual orientation in some LGBT persons is fluid. But developmental psychologist Lisa Diamond’s highly regarded research could be summarized as: And yet it moves.

Sexual Fluidity, Diamond’s 2009 book published by Harvard University Press, won that year’s “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues Distinguished Book Award,” presented by the American Psychological Association. The Advocate, America’s oldest and largest LGBT publication, began one article in 2014, “A growing body of research indicates that for some people, sexual attractions change over time.”

WORLD’s article concludes, “California is a ‘pro-choice’ state on abortion, but one-party rulers are trying to eliminate choice in LGBT counseling. If gays or lesbians in California who want to change seek professional help, it appears they will soon have to head to back alleys. Government officials may decree that LGBT sexual orientation cannot change—and yet it moves.”

Jim Long

Jim is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute's mid-career course.

Read more from this writer
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Sat, 06/16/2018 11:48 am

    The reason it is possible to change, is because homosexuality is a behavior, not a type of person.  What this law does fundamentally is ban the truth.  

  • Bob R
    Posted: Mon, 06/18/2018 12:34 pm

    I suspect one of the driving forces behind this legislation is that if such change truly is possilble, then "gender-identity" is no longer an immutable quality like race, nation origin, or biological gender, which then weakens the argument for civil rights protections for those who engage in these practices.  Of course, religion is also on the list of protected classes, and yet, those protections are routinely overruled in favor of LGBTQ...XYZ interests.

  • Bonnie Jean
    Posted: Sat, 06/16/2018 03:03 pm

    Heavenly Father, in your grace, mercy & love for all, do not allow this bill to pass. Give courage to our elected officials to vote No. Give wisdom to all of us, that we would educate ourselves, understand better how this therapy works, & be brave enough to share this information with others.Thank you Lord that many who have sought this therapy have discovered it's root cause, changed & became the person You created them to be. Please do not remove the choice, from anyone, to choose help.  We need your love, mercy, grace, strength and wisdom to stand against this evil attempt to silence our freedoms. If You will stop it from passing in CA, it will be much less able to  pass in others states.  Hear us Father, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sat, 06/16/2018 04:09 pm


  • JH
    Posted: Sat, 06/16/2018 05:10 pm


    Like crabs in a crab trap: if one figures out what's coming and wants to get out, the rest savage it.


    This isn't the only situation in which people act this irrationally.  Some members of the deaf community have tried--unsuccessfully--to dissuade a physician friend of mine from getting cochlear implants for his deaf son.  Their argument?  Allowing him to hear would deprive him of the benefits of deaf culture.  I couldn't make that up.  I have nothing against the deaf, nor the blind, nor the paralyzed--it's hard not to see them as unfortunate--but actively ~choosing~ those paths is beyond my meager comprehension.


    Perhaps I'm missing some great enlightened revelation, but then, I must be handicapped as well.

  •  LowFreq's picture
    Posted: Sat, 06/16/2018 09:17 pm


    I have never heard of that before, Joseph Horton, but i guess it should not suprise me.  In so many aspects of life, it has become noble to be a victim.  Better to be victimized than to be "okay" with some indignation.   And the term "okay" is probably offensive to someone, which also is an indicator that not only do we live in a culture more prone to the elevation of victimhood, but also we have become a culture who has decided the coolest hobby is to be able to find an offense and get the power of the goverment behind us to stop the offense.  This is so unfortunate.  The number of things in my life that have offended me in my 51 years on this planet are numerous, but what did i do with that offense?  I reflected on it, saw what parts of it may have been correct and/or me being oversensetive; I tried to do better in me, and then learned that some people have incorrect thoughts and i need to learn how to intelligently oppose that thinking internally and externally in a calm fashion (as i say that, i am by no means saying that what i did is THE blueprint for handling an offense, nor did i handle it that way every time).  The way we deal with an offense is what has changed.  Everybody has been a victim to some degree and everybody has been offended.  Even those people who say they have a thick skin can be offended by something, it is jsut a matter of degrees. So with that being equal in everyone (the capacity to be offended), what we really are dealing with is what people have chosen to do with the offesnses they carry with them. Today, an offense is not a point of self relfection or  a starting point to become more knowledgable in the topic that offended you, it is to lash out and get a pound of flesh.   The biggest offense you can level against someone is that they need to change.  And the resistance to that change is pride, our root sin issue.  It is one of the biggest hinderances to a person coming to Christ.  Yet Jesus is safe to turn ourselves in to, but we as fellow sinners are not safe as a general rule. And we show that everday, even to those we love. 

    Everyone wants to be accepted as they are in those things that cannot be changed (like skin color, the shape of our eyes, our height) and everyone wants to be fixed in the things that can be .  Now, through the twisting of word definitions and through medical technology that is being used not to save lives but pervert them, we are getting to "fix" those things that were at one time unchangleable so we do not have to fix those things which should be fixed. It is a cover for the true heart problem.

    The color of our skin cannot be changed and it is right - especially through Christ - for us to be accepted no matter our skin color or ethnicity.              Note: i am sure there will be medical technology to change our skin color, and that is sad. God likes variety, jsut look at the fish of the sea.                   And on the surface (non-DNA level) we can now change our sex.... but the truth is we should be helping those with gender dysphoria, not enabling them.  For someone that stuggles with same sex attraction, we should help them. For someone who struggles with causal heterosexual sex outside of marrige, we should help them not encourage it. For someone who struggles with gossip, we should help them and not tell them it is okay.  And to come full circle, we should also kindly and in love help those who struggle with victimhood.  Much better to have the attitude of Jesus, or Joseph.  It is better for us emotionally and and it is much better for our Christian testimony.    Opposing victimhood requires turning the other cheek and it requires humility.  Jesus Christ, Joseph, Martin Luther King  and Gandhi all promoted humitly and downplayed victimhood - with only Jesus doign it perfectly.  And now, victimhood has taken a place in our society that it is certainly an idol.  How else can the example given by Jospeh Horton even take place unless it has become an idol.  I cannot imagine us saying that about other ailments, like being blind, or not being able to have children,  having naturally occuring high blood pressure, diabetes,  clinical depression etc.  Are we really goign to do nothing for person who struggles with _______ (fill in the blank)?  Will we not try to fix it?  And now we are back to the word "fix" implying something is wrong with me and how dare you say somethign is wrong with me just because i cannot hear or see or have high blood pressure. But there is somethign wrong with you,.  Yet that does not mean that you are less valuable. So there is another issue for another time, because as a society, we do deem people with ailments as less valuable, but i will stop there with that topic.  I have a lot of physical ailments or things that are wrong with me and if it was possible, i would fix them and some of them have been.  I am also a sinner and i want to fix those sin issues in my life and grow in Christ, not stay where i am at.  I need fixing in many ways.

    This is where the life of Joseph would come in handy.  He accepted that he was in jail, but he did not like it and the circumstnace needed to be fixed as much as it was up to him, which is why when he was talking to the cup bearer and baker, he tried to get out of jail.  He accepted where he was and did not settle in comfortably with victimhood even though he was the victim and did not just resign himself to stay ng there forever (just like blacks in the United States under the horrible Jim Crow laws and Indians in India under oppresive British rule).  Joseph did both at the same time as did King and Gandhi.    It is easy to want to declare our victim status and it is hard to swallow indignation, injustice and to just keep on walking. It is horrible to be thought of as a lesser human, all because the skin God gave you and God thinks is beauitful is not thought of as beautiful by fellow humans.  It is also sad when a person who suffers from a particular God identified sin says it is good; it is sad when God states sin is a stain on His image of Him in us, and it is thought of by our fellow humans as something to be embraced and coddled and treated with glory.  As usual, in our sin we have it all backwards.


  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 06/18/2018 10:50 am

    For the radical LGBT people the idea that one can change back to normal is totally unacceptable. If others can change, then they could change, and they do not want to accept that possibility. It also means to be LGBT is wrong.  There is no way they can admit or accept that they are in the wrong.

  •  nxlcsdeo's picture
    Posted: Sat, 06/16/2018 11:43 pm

    Thank you for this excellent article on a troubling subject.  I have read Dr. Nicolosi's book on reparative therapy and was impressed with the compassionate professionalism of his approach.  Interesting that the gay community itself acknowledges the possibility of change in sexual attractions, yet some are trying to outlaw the choice to change.  Outlaw choice? That sounds very un-LGBT.

  • JerryM
    Posted: Sun, 06/17/2018 06:13 pm

    Important reporting.  I pray for its wider dissemination.

  •  Uff Da's picture
    Uff Da
    Posted: Mon, 06/18/2018 11:49 am

    Liberals are prochoice, as long as you choose what they allow and believe in.