The claim is that Mike Pence once supported the controversial practice of gay conversion therapy that, once upon a time, involved electroshock therapy. As the website Snopes has pointed out, Pence once, when running for Congress in 2000, stated that he supported federal funding for people “seeking to change their sexual behavior.” The Left is making a quantum leap in logic by stating “changing sexual behavior” is akin to gay conversion therapy.
First, a little background. The original statement was in response to continued funding for the Ryan White Care Act- a bill that provided funding for AIDS/HIV patients living with the disease who lacked the necessary income or insurance. Pence’s website at the time stated:
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
From this statement, reactionary Leftists have taken it to mean he supports gay conversion therapy which is an effort to “cure” the person of their attraction to the same sex. It is akin to the other cited reference in the Snopes article about a plank in the GOP platform: “We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.” Some also took that to mean that the GOP supported gay conversion therapy when, in fact, it was a reference to vaccinations and such and nothing to do with gays.
As for the Pence statement, he was advocating an audit of funds under the law to make sure they were going to proper sources. AIDS/HIV was decimating the gay community when this bill came up and there were some treatments coming on the market to at least attenuate the symptoms. There was also an additional educational effort within the gay community advocated by many- not all- recipients of federal funds to practice safe sex. For example, the use of condoms was known to greatly reduce the chances of contracting the virus. A more rational reading of the Pence statement would lead one to believe that Pence was suggesting that any funds distributed would go to organizations and institutions that advocated safe sex practices, including the use of condoms.
Secondly, the Left equates “sexual behavior” with “homosexuality” when, in fact, sexual behavior can include less promiscuous behavior (among heterosexuals also, by the way), use of condoms and avoiding places known (namely, gay bath houses) where the spread of HIV/AIDS was more prevalent. At worst, it is a clumsily worded statement at the end (the last sentence), but it is certainly NOT advocacy for gay conversion therapy. If he had left the word “sexual” out of that last sentence, it could have included homosexuality in a stealth manner as well as intravenous drug users and others who contracted HIV/AIDS. And if a behavior is known to be contributing to the spread of a deadly infectious disease, why should the federal government fund programs that do not address that behavior?
The article does mention that at one time, the use of electroshock was an acceptable form of aversion therapy in treating homosexuality and was used as recently as the early 1970’s. Homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder at one time by the American Psychological Association (APA). In the late 1960’s, they adjusted that definition somewhat to “egodystonic homosexuality,” treating that disorder which was: the “homosexual” who was uncomfortable with their homosexuality and could not adjust accordingly. In 1973, they dropped even that classification.
But facts usually do not matter to the Left. Politifact– an arm of the Washington Post which, in turn, is an arm of the Democratic Party- treats this falsity as a fact. This is an outgrowth of Pence’s clumsy handling of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act analogy while Governor of that state which was a reaction to the Supreme Courts gay marriage decision. While Mike Pence may not be a poster boy for LGBT rights, he is hardly an advocate for gay conversion therapy.
The Left believes they have happened upon a smoking gun when it is nothing but simply another dud in the never-ending culture wars since they thrive on “controversies” real and imagined. In typical Leftist fashion in order to find the non-existent homophobic, sexist, racist, or xenophobic animus behind anything that does not comport to their worldview 100%, they will stop at nothing including lies, slander, misrepresentation and, most importantly, an unwillingness to perhaps see things other than that which exists in their liberal bubbles.
The American Psychological Association should classify liberalism as a psychological disorder and then perhaps electroshock many on the Left into the use of commonsense.