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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Gay Rights in the Trump Era: The Bad and the Good

While (inexplicably) there really are gay Trump supporters, their backing cannot come from what his administration has done for gay people; it must come from believing that his actions on the economy and particularly things elevating the upper class make up for his disdain for the LGBTQ agenda.  I suppose if they’re wealthy enough it doesn’t matter to some gays that Trump will destroy lots of other values they should treasure.

Yes, Trump actually has some gay friends. Years ago he attended Elton John’s wedding and commented that all people in love should be allowed to get married.  But it's not an issue on which he has strong feelings, and, of course, he does need to keep his base happy if he’s going to be reelected.  Thus whenever anything gay arises that his administration must deal with, the gays are dumped without a thought.  Transgendered people in the military?  They’re out—too expensive to pay for all those operations.  Federal regulations supporting gay rights?  Repeal them or stop enforcing same.

If an issue concerning gays comes before the Supreme Court the Trump Administration will file an amicus brief in favor of the standard homophobic position.  When a Colorado baker claimed a religious right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding and the case reached the Court, Trump’s position favored the baker.  In that case the Court ducked the big issue and sent the case back to the lower courts for a closer examination of the religious arguments.  [See my blog post on this “The Supreme Court Did Not Rule That a Baker May Discriminate Against Gays,” June 6, 2018;].  However that issue won’t go away and the Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the matter once again next term with the big question being whether religious bigotry trumps (pun intended) equal protection of the law.  If it were a Muslim baker refusing to sell to a Jew the Court would likely forbid such discrimination.  But as soon as homosexuality is part of the picture centuries of prejudice queer the issue and all bets are off.

The Court has another thorny gay issue to deal with this coming year.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”  The question is whether “sex” simply means male or female or whether it also includes sexual orientation.  Certainly when the statute was drafted it never occurred to Congress that gays were being protected, and the few cases in the early days that raised the issue said this.  But in recent years some of the lower federal courts of appeals have bravely ruled that gays are protected by the clear language of the Act: “sex” includes sexual orientation—how could it not?  Other federal courts of appeals disagree and the Court will now settle the issue. 

How will it come out?  Well my guess is that the gays will lose this one.  Certainly the Trump Administration hopes so; just this month it filed an amicus brief saying gays aren’t meant to be covered by the statute.  The Court itself has five conservatives and four liberals and the split is likely to be along those lines against the gay inclusion.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was a strong voice for gay rights, is now gone from the Court, replaced by Brent Kavanaugh, chosen by Trump because he is a trusted conservative jurist.


David Souter
But, you never know.  Strange things can happen to a person who becomes a lifelong member of the United States Supreme Court.  He/she is appointed for life and cannot be removed unless impeached for criminal behavior.  Moreover this new Justice will now become a historical figure with his/her opinions studied, cataloged, criticized.  More than one appointee to the Court has switched from conservative to liberal in such a situation.  Justice David Souter, appointed by the first Bush, was very conservative when appointed and very liberal when he retired (he is still alive).  I mention this because Brent Kavanaugh (yes, HIM) has surprised Court-watchers since he has come on the bench by taking some surprisingly liberal stances, sometimes voting with the four liberal Justices and helping them win the day.  Much vilified for debasing women Kavanaugh has chosen females for all four of his law clerks (a record—no Justice has ever done that before).  Hmm.  Could Kavanaugh turn out to be another Souter?  And Chief Justice John Roberts hates for the Court to be seen as political and predictable, so on the odd occasion he too has, in the past, suddenly bolted from the conservative ranks and voted with the liberals (he did so two years ago to save Obama Care from being declared unconstitutional, which astounded Court watchers).

What about gay marriage in the Trump era?  Is it likely to be dumped?

No.  We are safe on this one, and I’ll bet big money on this.  See me if you want to make such a bet and we’ll negotiate the terms.

Why am I so confident?  Because the United States (and much of the world) has now had years of gay marriage and it’s all gone very well, producing almost no downsides.  Millions of gay weddings have taken place and millions more are happening every year.  This has been remarkably good for the economy (look up the figures on the internet—they are staggering—billions of dollars made each year from such unions).  Having gay couples legally married creates stability: gays who can get married show those around them that they're no different than straight couples---they are not just two queers pretending to be something they're not.  Poll numbers show that gay marriage is overwhelmingly popular with the public.  Almost everyone in this country knows gay people who are married, and most straight people have been invited to gay weddings.  This includes members of the United States Supreme Court, all of whom are likely to have gay family members and other family members supporting those gays closely watching the Justices with steady eyes. 

Moreover Obergefell v. Hodges, the case stating gay marriage was mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment, was decided in 2015 and four years later it has produced what is uniformly considered a happy result.  It is, as lawyers say, a “settled precedent.”  The United States Supreme Court is loath to overturn its precedents and rarely does so on big cases like this one.  Chief Justice Roberts is steadfast on convincing the country that the Court is not a political animal and changes in the personnel do not lead to overturning decided matters.  Most of the Justices will have no appetite for revisiting Obergefell v. Hodges.  [Roe v. Wade is another matter, and I wouldn’t place any bets on its continued existence.]

Homophobia won’t kill gay marriage.  There won’t even be a significant challenge. 

So, readers, my summary is this: Trump has been bad for gay rights, but he can’t win them all and for the most part he doesn’t really care about LGBTQ matters.

And there is a very good chance that by January of 2021 we won’t have to worry about what he thinks at all.


Related Posts:

Obamacare, John Roberts and the Supreme Court.” July 3, 2012;

"Five Judges Have Stopped All Further Progress on Gay Civil Rights Legislation," August 18, 2014;

“Must a Baker Create a Cake for a Gay Wedding?  What Will the Supreme Court Likely Say?” September 28, 2017;

“A Gay President in 2021?” April 21, 2019;

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

It’s Time for Baseball’s Robot Umpire To Call All the Balls and Strikes

Yes, robots are taking over more and more jobs these days, and we—the luddites—mightily protest in vain.  But there are some tasks, important to us, where robots will do things much better than humans ever can, and for such tasks we should welcome the efficiency these mechanical helpers bring.

Using AI to replace the job of baseball’s home plate umpire to call pitches as balls or strikes is an obvious example.

I am a major baseball fan, watching close to a hundred games a year (almost all of them being my beloved Cubbies—see Related Posts below).  In recent years most televised games show us a graphic of the strike zone and whether, according to the computer, the pitched ball actually touched it or not.  The real life umpire cannot see this graphic and continues to call balls and strikes in the old fashioned way: giving his best estimate of whether the ball was actually in the strike zone.  Professional umpires are trained well and they are pretty good at getting it right.  But the AI umpire is always perfect at getting it right and its embarrassing how often the umpire is simply wrong (sometimes dramatically so).  I estimate the live umpire gets the call wrong about 12% of the time.  In baseball that’s a lot of mistaken calls.

When an umpire is wrong you can bet that he hears about it after the game from many sources: the offended baseball player (whether batter or pitcher), disgusted fans, his employer, friends, family, or, worst of all, watching a video of the game and actually seeing how bad his call was.

There has been a movement underway, which I’m joining now, to have AI umpires call all balls and strikes.  Just recently one of the minor leagues has been experimenting with doing this and the results are positive.  See  This experiment determined that the artificial umpire called more strikes in the upper part of the strike zone than human umpires are comfortable doing, and that the strike zone seems bigger to everyone playing because if even a sliver of the ball touches it a strike call results.  In this experiment the human umpire was wearing an ear piece and instantly heard the robotic decision.  It was his duty to then announce the result aloud.  The human umpire can only overrule the AI umpire if something strange happened like the ball was pitched badly, bounced in front of the plate, and then crossed the strike zone (being called a strike by the robot umpire when the rule books would not do that). 

The strike zone varies with each batter based on his height.  As to height the zone goes from the middle of his knees up to most of his belly (“nipples to knees” is the joking way of explaining this).  The professional players are all measured for this to ensure accuracy, or, if no measurement has yet been taken of a new player, the standard strike zone for a man of his height is substituted.  The size of home plate is the horizontal measurement of the strike zone (see below).

The AI umpire makes a 3D measurement of the plate and the height of the player to create the artificial strike zone.  If the ball touches any portion of the strike zone so created a strike is called.  On television most broadcasts only show a rectangle of the strike zone viewed from the front and an image of a circle where the ball went as it was pitched into or out of the rectangle.  Normally this rectangle is added to the screen off to the side of the actual players at home plate, but on some (bad) broadcasts the rectangle is put right over home plate where it is harder to see because the image is obscured by the three players in the picture.  The best use of the AI umpire in on ESPN where the entire 3D image is often shown.

When I began asking very experienced baseball viewers whether they favored taking the human umpire out of the strike zone decision in favor of the AI calling the game, I received diverse answers.  Those who chose to stay with the current system had explanations like “it’s always been part of the game, and players have to get used to the vagaries of the different umpires.”  “Wouldn’t that favor older players who happened to be good at this over newer ones or those who are bad at remembering whether particular umpires have large or small strike zones?” I asked.  “Yes, but that’s always the case: some players are just better at understanding the game than others.”

Hmm.  After the experiment with the AI umpire in a minor league game mentioned in the link above most of the players, both pitchers and batters, liked the use of the AI umpire over a real one and said they wished it was done all the time.

I’m with them.  When I’m watching a game and I see bad calls being made that critically affect the outcome of the game I’m annoyed that the obvious fix isn’t implemented now.  Baseball games should be decided by what actually happened and not by merely guessing.


Related Posts:

A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;

"My Sad Tale of Being a Chicago Cubs Fan," May 27, 2015;

“Two Gay Men Watch the Superbowl,” March 5, 2019;

“On Being a Gay Sports Fan,” March 9, 2012,

“Put-Out at Home Plate,” February 14, 2010;

Monday, June 24, 2019

Bad News: Civilization Will Collapse By 2100

Climate change, of course, will deal the fatal blow, and no one who has looked into the data doubts it. Globally 110 million tons of man-made pollution are produced daily (something our planet hasn’t experienced since three million years ago when the earth was boiling).  In the recent bestseller “The Uninhabitable Earth---Life After Warming” author David Wallace-Wells walks the reader through all the horrors that are already building and leads us to the obvious and terrifying conclusion: civilization will collapse by 2100 and the humans that are left will be warring tribes.  All of this can be prevented only if the entire population of the earth, as a unity, takes major preventative steps in the next twenty years. After twenty years it will be too late to stop the coming nightmare.  The book is terrifying to read but it’s not dull: a real page turner listing how we got here and the horrors that are just over the hill.  Be warned that once you read this book sleeping at night will become a challenge as your mind tries to wrap itself around this new startling reality.  The United Nations has been banging the drum loudly, with its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] issuing increasingly dire reports on the severity of the problem, and Secretary General António Guterres turning up last week on the cover of Time Magazine standing in a suit up to his knees in the rising waters of Fiji where habitation is becoming dicey unless you happen to be a fish. 

The industrial revolution, starting around 1750, triggered our current problem as we began pouring carbon into our air, and by the mid-nineteenth century scientists were beginning to worry about the effect of all that carbon making its home in our atmosphere.  In the twentieth century the alarm bell was louder and nowadays it’s a cacophony.  Wallace-Wells comments:

[N]ever in the earth’s entire recorded history has there been warming at anything like this speed—by one estimate, around ten times faster than at any point in the last 66 million years.  Every year, the average American emits enough carbon to melt 10,000 tons of ice in the Antarctic ice sheets—enough to add 10,000 cubic meters of water to the ocean.  Every minute, each of us adds five gallons.

The Netflix series “Our Planet” (wonderfully narrated by David Attenborough) documents how man’s ruination of the planet both through climate change and misuse of the land (burning down rain forests, polluting the oceans and lakes, over-cultivation) is currently destroying a million species of animals, birds, insects, plants in a major global tragedy.  In Episode Two the series focuses on walruses who gather annually on an ice-covered mountain to meet and mate only to find this year the ice is gone and the mountain too small for the huge numbers of walruses piling up there.  They climb clumsily on top of one another, smothering those below, until finally the pile grows so high they begin to tumble—horribly—to their deaths, as the living mound beneath them collapses. 

Melting the Greenland ice sheet alone, which is well underway, would raise sea levels six meters, eventually wiping out 90% of Florida, Manhattan, London, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Mumbai.  Rising temperatures cause all sorts of “natural” disasters to get worse: more forest fires, hurricanes, droughts, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.  The new “normal” will be hotter and hotter.  We are never going back to the predictable weather we all grew up with.  This past year was the hottest on record.  The last ten years the same.  Huge parts of the globe will become uninhabitable because of heat and drought.  By 2100 no one will be able to go to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage—they would immediately fry in the incinerating heat. 

Since the last century a growing chorus of scientists and others have been trying to turn public attention to the dramatic problem of climate change,  Al Gore made a movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award (and led to his Nobel Peace Prize).  Recently new voices are being heard everywhere.  A notable one is a Swedish teenager named Greta Thunberg who has led a worldwide protest, including school demonstrations and strikes everywhere, trumpeting the need for immediate actions on climate change.  She has addressed a U.N. Climate Change Conference, berated billionaires at the World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland, met with the Pope, and lectured the U.K. Houses of Parliament about the need for immediate action.  And every day when you look at the news startling evidence of climate change horrors are awaiting us all from many sources: the biggest hurricane on record; the 500 year flood occurring two years in a row, California fires consuming the state county by county, and on and on.

We must change our world so that we don’t increase the carbon in the atmosphere so as to raise the temperature more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century.  The Paris Accord, by which most countries of the earth agreed to cut carbon emissions so as to hold heating to that amount (or, worst case, 2 degrees Celsius) has already been breached.  No country has met its goal so far, and President Trump, who doesn’t believe in climate change (though when he applied for a permit to build a sea wall for his new golf club in Ireland gave climate change as a reason), has dumped the agreement and increased carbon emissions in our country.  In May the United States vetoed any mention of climate change by the Arctic Council in a new report.   Unless dramatic steps (to be described below) are taken within the next twenty years the temperature will rise by 4 degrees Celsius (or even as much as 8 degrees in some studies!), frying the earth.  People in the hottest parts of the planet will of course flee to cooler parts with huge migrations of starving and desperate people.  Countries will simply collapse from heat: India and Bangladesh will be early victims (as will island nations all over the world), with China and southeast Asian countries suffering horribly, Australia is already baking with killing heat (but nonetheless elected an anti-climate change government in early June), and the United States, wracked by wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding coastlines, baking farmlands, will be overrun from the south by billions of people fleeing unbearable heat.  Russia (where the northwestern city of Arkhangelsk reached 84 degrees this May, a record), Canada and some northern countries will be the last to collapse, but the refugees will get them too in the end.  Want to know what it will all look like?  Watch a Mad Max movie.  Imagine its real.

The experts say we have about twenty years to stop making the atmosphere worse and avoiding the horrors just mentioned.  But—and here’s the rub—we won’t take these steps even though we know we need to do so.  Why not?  Well, consider what they are: 

Within twenty years we would have to completely stop using fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas).  No more vehicles (except electric ones), airplanes, trains, ships, or industries that use these fuels to run our lives (so there goes air conditioning, for example) and stop most of our power sources except nuclear, wind, solar, etc.  We’ll have to kill all the cows in the world since their burping and farting produces methane and contributes to an estimated 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions—thus no hamburgers, no milk.  We will need zero emissions from all other sources: deforestation, agriculture, landfills.  And what government would actually do all this?  In the next twenty years?  Wallace-Wells concludes it would take a new system of global government united to achieve what must be done, an effort greater than the mobilization that won World War II. 

Want to take bets on what will actually happen over the next twenty years?  Hmm.  Perhaps its best not to think about it.  Instead have a drink, put your feet up, get on with life as usual.  At one point in “The Uninhabitable Earth” the author compares what we’re currently doing to someone sitting in a running car in a closed garage knowing things aren’t going to work out well but stupidly unable to shut off the engine and escape the inevitable end.

There are new things coming that would help.  HBO has a documentary called “Ice on Fire” explaining possible scientific solutions that could be very useful if promptly adopted on a worldwide scale (cows, for example, could be fed seaweed and thus produce no methane at all).  A populace that understands the coming Armageddon might be persuaded to make huge sacrifices to escape from our gas-filled garage.

Consider babies being born the very day you’re reading this.  If they live to be 80 they’ll see the collapse of civilization and actually become Mad Max survivors fighting over the debris of our destroyed world.  Do you have or plan to have grandchildren?  Here’s their heritage: the day when the internet goes dark, the day when electricity is no more, the day when vandals replace local government officials, the day when everyone damn well better be armed and only move about in well trained groups.

[Click To Enlarge]

Me?  I was born lucky.  As I’ve commented before on this blog, I was fortunate to be a child born during WWII.  There weren’t a lot of us.  Thus I was accepted by every school I applied to.  When I needed a job there were lots of them.  The baby-boomers followed me and fought like dogs, but I was ahead of that mass.  Like most people on the planet I accepted our likely future as one that would get better and better for me, for my children, for future generations.  Startlingly that isn’t going to be true, but I’m 75, still time lucky, and I'll die before it gets really bad. 

But for most people—younger people—this nightmarish chaos just described is their future.

Unless we all demand change now.  Huge changes!  And make it clear we will make major sacrifices in return for a livable planet for all those who will come after us.  If we don’t do that . . . well, imagine their contempt for us as they hide in the caves and look around at the ruins of a once proud civilization.

Related Posts:

A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;

“On Being Lucky: The Second Anniversary of My Heart Transplant,” November 23, 2011;

“The Collapse of 2050: Earth as a Ponzi Scheme,” August 17, 2015;  

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Gay President in 2021?

When I heard that one of the many candidates running for president on the Democratic side was an openly gay man who was the mayor of a small Indiana city I dismissed him as a dreamer with no attachment to reality.  This dismissal was shored up on learning he’s only 37 and has an unpronounceable last name [Buttigieg]. 

But then I was startled to learn that polls have this man as number three in the huge pack of possible candidates (behind two elders: Biden and Sanders), and that he is climbing in the estimation of more or less everyone.  Hmm.

Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg (yes, all of that), most commonly known as “Mayor Pete,” turns out to be a formidable candidate in spite of the supposed problems noted above.  He is reputed nationally as a “mayor’s mayor,” widely regarded as one of the finest municipal executives in the country, and much beloved by the people of South Bend, Indiana, who reelected him with 80% of the vote even after he came out as gay. 

What makes Pete so popular?  Well, of course, there’s more, much more to the man.  His background is stellar: After graduating from Harvard he was a Rhodes Scholar, getting a Master of Arts at Oxford, his writings have won awards, he joined the United States Naval Reserve and did a tour of duty that included combat in Afghanistan, was named Mayor of the Year in 2013, and has done amazing things for the City of South Bend.  Oh yes, he’s also a devout Christian, speaks seven languages, and plays both the piano and the guitar.  He is married to Chasten Glezman (who also took Buttigieg’s last name).

This is all impressive, of course, but what’s even more impressive is to watch Mayor Pete in action on TV or the internet.  He's not overbearing as many candidates are, but instead is calm, intelligent, full of common sense, fast on his feet, wise, and quite personable.  He has a great smile and comes across as truly concerned about this country, exhibiting a strong desire to put it back on a path very different from the one Donald Trump has beaten through a swamp of his own making.  To watch Buttigieg in action is to be stimulated.  I find myself muttering, “Just what we need: a smart man who cares and has lots of common sense.” 

But what about the gay thing?  Well, with Barack Obama the question was “What about the black thing?”  When the candidate is right for the job—someone who fits the mood of the times, someone America feels it can trust to get things accomplished—these sorts of barriers no longer seem so high.  With Obama voters quickly learned to stop thinking about him as black and just think of him as effective.  Mayor Pete is like that.  He knows how to talk to Trump’s base and address their problems, while Trump has failed to do more than make empty promises to them.  Many of the people of South Bend are very much Trump's kind of voters, but they really like Pete.

What about the mass of other candidates?  There are a thundering lot of them and who knows who might turn out to be a better choice.  A number of them are quite impressive.  Elizabeth Warren is a personal friend of mine (I’ve known her since she started teaching in the early 80s), and she would make a terrific president.  Her followers, of which I am one, adore her, and she’s smart and caring, a fierce debater, and has a wonderful sense of humor.  But she has detractors and enemies and her candidacy (which I support wholeheartedly and even financially) has so far not moved her to the top of the pack as an obvious choice.  Go, Liz!  I’ll do what I can to help you get elected.

Elizabeth with me and my husband David Vargo

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have major baggage.  They are both far too old to become president in 2021, but even were that not a damning characteristic (as it is in my opinion, and I speak as a 75 year old myself), they have major flaws.  

Joe Biden has a history of outrageous plagiarism.  He was tossed out of law school when caught using other writers' words as his own in a major piece of scholarship (and then, crying, threw himself on the faculty’s mercy and was readmitted), but he went on to outrageously plagiarize the speeches of others in his 1988 presidential run, was caught at it, and ignominiously dropped out for that very reason.  Joe’s a nice guy, but he is widely known known as "Mr. Gaffe" since he speaks before he thinks and constantly gets himself into trouble.  This will only get worse as he ages.  While I’d like having Joe over to the house for drinks (I'm sure he'd be lots of fun), I don’t want him as my president.  I’ve written about this before (see Related Posts below).

Bernie Sanders is a wonderful thinker and a great speaker.  He is dedicated to causes and an impressive person.  But he's known as a man who does not tolerate dissent from his views; “my way or the highway” has always been his approach, and those who know Bernie say he is a difficult, almost impossible, person to work for, the sort of boss who mistreats his staff.  His early history contains episodes in which he explored communism, and the far right can’t wait to highlight that (say on billboards, skywriting, and flooding the internet) were he nominated as the Democratic candidate.  Alas, Bernie has no sense of humor, and that factor is one that always makes me recoil.  As with Biden I’ve written about his defects before (see Related Posts below). 

Take out the two top candidates so far (Biden and Sanders) and Peter Buttigieg moves to the top.  I don’t know if he can stay there, but I am now a fan of this man.  So is my husband, who is walking around the house wearing a “Mayor Pete” t-shirt, and who has purchased a coffee mug which explains how to pronounce his name.

About that name.  Here is how to say it right:  First say the word “edge” twice, very quickly.  Then put the word “boot” in front of the repeated “edges,” emphasizing the “boot” and saying the two “edges” quickly.  Practice a couple of times and you’ll be able to say “Buttigieg” correctly with the best of them.

Just one last thing.  Think how proud we can be of our country—how adult we are, how far we’ve come—if on January 20, 2021, Chief Justice Roberts holds out a bible and swears in Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg as the 46th President of the United States.

Related Posts:

A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;

“Joe Biden, Plagiarism, and Why He Shouldn’t Run For President,” August 25, 2015;

“Why I Love Bernie Sanders’ Ideas, But Hope He Won’t Be the Nominee,” October 20, 2015;

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Ugliness of Gay Conversion Therapy

It is estimated that over 700,000 people currently living in the United States have undergone some form of gay conversion therapy (about half were teenagers at the time) designed to change them from homosexual to heterosexual.  Many of the groups offering this miraculous transformation are religious in origin, the premier one in this country being “Love In Action,” now renamed “Restoration Path” and still going strong in 2019.  A leading organization having offshoots all over the world was “Exodus International,” which handled many thousands of such cases before folding in 2013 [see Related Posts below].

These gay conversion groups have many methods to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals.  In the recent movies “Boy Erased” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (both available for viewing on the internet) the young people—a male in the first and a female in the second—are placed in an environment very like a summer camp and rigorously trained on how to behave in a heterosexual fashion (movements, clothes, etc.).  There is a great deal of cruelty such as making boys have supposed conversations with their father about why he failed to teach them how to become true males, or, in a real life case making boys beat a pillow representing their mother to punish her for turning them into sissies—see  Girls are taught how a real woman walks, talks, looks and behaves.  Much emphasis is placed on religious doctrine as they "pray away the gay."

How often does such treatment (or the similar efforts of professional counselors like psychologists) of produce happy heterosexuals where once there were only sinful homosexuals with twisted desires?


What never?  No, never.  The best that can be hoped for is that graduates will learn how to repress their homosexual urges and live chaste and celibate lives.  Imagine how much fun that would be if it were offered to you as a life style. 

During my gay rights activist days and right up until the current moment, I’ve had a standing offer about ex-gay conversion. I will contribute $5000 to the charity of choice of an individual or organization that can produce five men who were once gay and are now straight. There are various conditions: (1) the men must have had significant gay experiences in their lives, (2) become straight through whatever process, and (3) for at least five years thereafter remained completely straight. Finally, they must not have ever been leaders or volunteer workers for ex-gay organizations (just, therefore, normal members) and pass rigorous tests to determine their current sexual orientation (see me for details—I am serious about this—this offer is still open). Since ex-gay organizations have been around for over thirty years, you’d think they’d have thousands of former participants who’d easily meet my criteria, but so far no one has taken me up on this. Note that I’m not proposing a bet. If the person/organization can’t find five men who pass the tests, they lose nothing other than a credibility that is often widely touted (though in tatters whenever considered objectively).  I would require that if five converted straight men are not produced, the expenses of testing be paid for by the entity accepting my challenge.

Frequently the founders of these anti-gay organizations sincerely repent their actions later in life.  Two of Exodus International's co-founders (Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper) fell in love while running the group and left it to get married.  When Exodus International closed in 2013 the then leader of the organization apologized for the pain, despair, and suicides it had caused during its 37 year run.   Prior to that in 2007 three former leaders of EI came out as gay or lesbian and issued a public apology for their roles in Exodus. In April 2010, one of them confessed he'd never seen Exodus actually change any participant into a heterosexual.  Here’s another repentance by a Mormon leader of a similar group:

Why doesn’t gay conversion work?  The answer is simple: sexual orientation is a not a choice, it is a biological imperative (all the science shows this, see Related Posts below).   Let me close with a wonderful rant about this on Reddit from a male heterosexual;

I'm Christian, and the way we, as a whole, treat gays is a sin.
We lack EMPATHY. We don't think CLEARLY.
I'm a straight male.
I cannot IMAGINE being told that my NATURAL SEXUAL DESIRE for the opposite sex is, according to "God's word", a sin. I would be DEVASTATED. If I felt in my heart I love Jesus, and that 'most' of the bible is true, but the very thing that makes me human (my sexuality) was a sin in itself, I would be depressed and suicidal. I would be confused that God would make me born to feel feelings for a woman that I'm now being told I'm "not supposed to feel".
My sexuality LITERALLY is WHO I AM, and no amount of "pray the straight away" could EVER make me change my natural desires for the opposite sex. I could PRETEND to be homosexual for the sake of fitting in and pleasing God, but I would always bear the burden of knowing that God created me to mask and pretend that I don't desire the opposite sex. I would resent God on some level that his own book condemns me.
We straight people take it for granted. We Christians like to say, "I'm not saying homosexuality is the ONLY sin, because I sin, TOOOOOO!" Here's the difference:
I can STOP fornicating, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. But I cannot, under any circumstance, under ANY THREAT OF HELL, make myself stop having feelings for the opposite sex any more than a gay person can. It's IMPOSSIBLE.
I could castrate myself, I suppose, as most gay Christians who claim to be "straight" do who get married and have kids, but are secretly gay and live with that secret for the rest of their life.
I can't imagine being forced to have a same-sex marriage partner and lying to myself all my life that "I'm gay now because Jesus/God loves me"
I would carry so much resentment towards the church, God and Jesus, even if I pretend that I'm a "changed man".
I put myself in other people’s shoes. I use this thing God gave us called EMPATHY, and it hurts my hurt when Christians don't think critically about what's in the bible, because not everything written is true. Most of it is, but not ALL!
Scripture was INSPIRED by God, written by men. Men, who had biases, and men who were not gay (or may have been gay themselves who convinced themselves it was sin) included it with all the other actual sins, making homosexuality look like a sin, when God's Spirit corrected me on that. It's an error in the bible and if Christians took the time to study the word homosexual in the bible and dig on their history about it, they will find it was ADDED TO THE BIBLE and was never part of the original Greek/Hebrew text. Someone who gave us our version of the bible today hated gays and wanted everyone else to hate them, too. And it worked.
Now, some people would say I'm not a true Christian if I don't believe the word is a PERFECT interpretation of what God want us to know. And that's fine. I grew up with a gay friend who saw more persecution in a single WEEK than any living Christian today has seen their entire lives. These people do not choose to be gay any more than I chose to be straight. I can't see the sexual appeal of another man even if I tried, and if seen enough naked male bodies to feel nothing. In fact, when I watched porn, I didn't care for the male performer - give me the lesbian stuff any day of the week.
But, I digress.
Christians don't understand that when you call someone’s sexual orientation a sin, it's literally like calling THEM a sin, and there is no way for them to escape this internal torture except pretend it doesn't exist (get married, have kids, and say to yourself and others "I'm delivered!") or exit the church and abandon God altogether because you were defect. At least, I know that's how I'd feel if being heterosexual was a sin in the bible.
I had to seek the Holy Spirit on this issue because something wasn't adding up, and when God confirmed to me in multiple ways that homosexuality is NOT a sin, but that it was INCLUDED in scripture by men who THOUGHT it was a sin based on their own prejudices and biases, it made me sad.
EDIT: Found an excellent article backing up my "claims" that homosexuality is not and never was a sin. This article is to help my gay brothers and sisters that you are perfectly fine the way God CREATED you and that your feelings ARE natural.
You are NOT to be FORCED to change who God made you to be to "appease" no damn church even after salvation. You are NOT going to turn straight after you get saved, so don't let no Christian put in your head that he will "help you in that area". Your soul is literally attracted to the same sex. Your soul mate IS the same sex, whoever he or she is. It's NOT a curse! It's NOT a sin!
And for you judgmental Christians out there who think I'm "less Christian then you" because you believe blindly in text over the Holy Spirit, I strongly suggest you set aside your assumptions and do a "heart check" before God "checks you".
A lot of these people want to live happy lives with their lovers in marriage, that's why they pushed for it. Not to "encroach" upon your right to marry the opposite sex. For centuries you've forced these people to have multiple sex partners and never be allowed to commit under the union of God because of you prejudices and biases due to your undying faith in the Bible over the heart of God.
Sorry for the rant. I felt it needed to be said as a warning to you Christians who think you got it all "figured out". You are in for a rude awakening when God reveals how much sin you have in your heart to these people, and you won't be able to use the "But, the bible told me so" as an excuse. Okay. I'm done. 

Currently fifteen states and the District of Columbia, plus various cities, make gay conversion therapy illegal; .  More should join them and stop this unconscionable cruelty that targets America’s children as their misguided parents send them trudging down a very ugly path.

Related Posts:

A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;

“How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010;

“Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight,” January 25, 2011;

“A Homophobic Organization Throws in the Towel: Goodbye to Exodus International,” June 21, 2013;

“How To Cure Homophobia,” July 30, 2015;