An Atheist civil rights group today denounced a statement by a
representative of the American Family Association that gay and lesbian
Americans should be forced to receive "Reparative Therapy" and compared
homosexuals to intravenous drug users.
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said that the proposal
"borders on Orwellian totalitarianism and seeks to further criminalize
behavior over which the churches and the government should have no
control whatsoever. Atheists have a wide variety of opinions about these
matters, and ours is not a gay rights organization, but we do firmly and
consistently oppose privileging religious posturing in determining what
is legally acceptable or to set government policy. Religionists who want
to enlist government in their efforts to persecute others must be firmly
Brian Fisher of the American Family Association told a radio audience
earlier this week that homosexuals should be compelled to receive
government-ordered psychotherapy for the same reason that drug users are
often pushed into treatment.
"Compelling gays and lesbians to receive 'treatment' for consensual,
adult behaviors is not only ineffective but politically unacceptable and
ethically wrong," said Buckner. "This is the old religious right canard
that gays are under the influence of Satan and are 'sick' because of
their sexual proclivities."
In a web posting, Fisher tried to justify his earlier statement by
citing government statistics; he noted that the FDA, for instance, says
that gay men have a greater chance of contracting HIV and other diseases
than straight males. "That's a public health issue," said Buckner.
"The AFA isn't really interested in public health hygiene; they're
pushing a relentless religious agenda that stigmatizes Americans based
on sexual preference."
Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists, said that
Fisher's remarks reflect the anti-gay, bible-based agenda of the AFA.
"Since its founding in 1977 by Rev. Donald Wildmon, the American Family
Associating has targeted gay men and women and done everything possible
to deny this group of millions of Americans their civil rights."
"This proposal for government-mandated therapy sounds more like the old
Soviet Union than the United States," added Silverman. "What is Fisher
going to do when people refuse to be 'treated'? Will homosexuals who do
not cooperate with this offensive bullying be put in jail or camps?"
Mr. Silverman says that when he learned of this proposal by AFA, he
laughed at how the group is often mischaracterized as a "conservative"
"Conservatives used to be suspicious of too much government. Now, we
have AFA calling for the ultimate in government surveillance, control
and compulsion. I wonder, if this proposal somehow became law, how much
money and many police agents it would take to enforce it?"