According to an early look at the Texas Republican Party's first draft of their 2014 platform, it looks like the Texas GOP is seriously considering throwing its support behind the practice of what's commonly referred to as "ex-gay therapy." The Houston Chronicle obtained a copy of the draft on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's party conference, noting that the section expressing support for "therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle" generated some opposition during Thursday morning's committee consideration of the document. Some, it seems, would prefer Texas's GOP return to its old stance on LGBT people: that the "practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society."
Here's what the draft says now about LGBT people:
Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.
Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.
In recent years, ex-gay therapy has been a fringe issue that even conservatives who oppose LGBT marriage rights tend to be reluctant to publicly support. Last summer, the founder of one of the the biggest ex-gay therapy operations in the country, Exodus International, shut down and apologized for "having hurt so many." Exodus's president Alan Chambers also renounced the idea that there was a "cure" for sexual orientation, and admitted that his claim to have been "cured" of being gay was false. But now that California and New Jersey have passed laws banning ex-gay therapy for minors, it seems that the practice is something some conservatives believe they must defend.
And, according to the draft, the endorsement of ex-gay therapy isn't the only scientifically questionable intervention into mental health and medical practice standards the Texas GOP would like to support this year. The document simultaneously calls for 11 additional restrictions on abortion access in the state, while urging the legislature to "protect pregnancy centers from harassing ordinances and regulations." "Pregnancy centers" are evangelical Christian resource centers that present themselves as an alternative to medical clinics that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. But unlike those clinics, pregnancy centers are not usually providing medical care. They simply counsel women on moral choices pertaining to that care.
And then there's this platform position, also a carry-over from the party's 2012 platform, which we'll leave here without comment:
The new language supporting therapy to "cure" gayness would replace the Texas GOP's current condemnation of homosexuality, according to the draft. That position was used by state Republicans this year to deny two gay Republican groups booths at the convention. As the Chronicle notes, a committee of Texas delegates is debating and amending this proposal all day, a process which will probably finish on Thursday evening. Then, it goes to the convention floor debates on Friday.