Elder Hafen recently gave (at an Evergreen conference) what I consider to be a wonderful speech concerning same-sex attraction and gay marriage. It is linked on the LDS Newsroom. This speech is probably the most well-balanced and well-informed article on same-sex marriage by an LDS general authority.

Then, to my dismay, I came across this post at FMH, in which ECS criticizes Hafen’s speech, in particular his use of references. But the FMH post itself is misleading and needs to be critiqued.

First, ECS critiques that Hafen cites a paraphrase from a Wall Street Journal article about the recent APA resolution on reparative therapy, rather than the resolution itself. Here is the quote in question, followed by ECS’s reply:

Just last month the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed.  But in what the Wall Street Journal called “a striking departure” from that Association’s earlier hesitation about encouraging such therapy, the same resolution also stated that “it is ethical—and can be beneficial—for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions,” especially clients with a strong religious identity.

It’s a bit strange that Hafen quotes a paraphrase of the resolution written by WSJ reporter instead of quoting the A.P.A. resolution itself.  I read the APA’s report, and I tried to find this quote.  It didn’t appear in the official APA Resolutions or anywhere in the APA report.   Then I noticed that the WSJ article doesn’t say the quoted language is an APA resolution.  The WSJ article doesn’t say anything about a resolution – yet Hafen claims that the paraphrased language written by a WSJ reporter  (that is not a resolution) is a resolution sanctioned by the A.P.A.  More importantly, the WSJ paraphrase of a non-Resolution does not accurately characterize any A.P.A. Resolutions.

My counters:

1. People often quote paraphrases for rhetorical reasons. The in-text citation and footnote are both correct, at any rate, making it clear that this quote comes from the WSJ article.

2. The WSJ article DOES talk about a resolution! In fact, the very quote ECS provides from the article does:

But in a striking departure, the American Psychological Association said Wednesday that it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions.

What is “said” here is the resolution! The fact that Hafen knows this, but apparently ECS does not, shows who has done more research on the matter. In fact, ECS’s comments betray how little she knows about what happened at the APA meeting last month. At any rate, it is false to say that “The WSJ article doesn’t say anything about a resolution.” Ooh, kind of weakens ECS’s argument, doesn’t it? Yes.

3. The WSJ paraphrase DOES accurately characterize the APA resolution. It quotes the chair (note, this is the person in charge) of the resolution explaining the need for this kind of middle-ground with religious groups.

“We’re not trying to encourage people to become ‘ex-gay,’” said Judith Glassgold, who chaired the APA’s task force on the issue. “But we have to acknowledge that, for some people, religious identity is such an important part of their lives, it may transcend everything else.” . . . “They’re faced with a terrible dilemma,” Dr. Glassgold said. The profession has to offer alternatives, she says, “so they don’t pursue these ineffective therapies” promising change.

I don’t have time to defend this claim like I would like to, but I do think that Hafen’s quote is consistent with the spirit of the resolution–and the quote above speaks to that. Interesting that ECS says nothing about any of this.

Second, ECS asserts that Hafen calls homosexuality a disorder. But he does no such thing. He simply criticizes the motivations in declassifying it in the 1970s. Not quite the same thing as calling it a disorder (e.g., maybe it never should have been called a disorder, but nonetheless its being removed as one was more a matter of political motivations than anything–not an irrelevant point even if it one wouldn’t call it a disorder). It is simply inaccurate to say that he called it a disorder because he did no such thing. In the interest of accurate reporting, ECS would be wise to avoid the very things she is criticizing.

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