Last edited: August 05, 2004

‘Politics Trumps Science’ at Psychological Association, Critic Says, August 4, 2004

By Sarah Junk, Correspondent

The American Psychological Association’s recent endorsement of homosexual marriage, which followed its support for homosexual adoption and the removal of sodomy laws, shows that the group places politics before science, according a conservative critic.

“Politics trumps science in some of these organizations, particularly when a pro-homosexual ideology is the governing principle” said Peter Sprigg, senior director of policy studies at the Family Research Council.

But in defending the decision, Armand Cerbone, chairman of the American Psychological Association’s Working Group on Same-Sex Families and Relationships, said “APA and psychologists had to grapple with the issue of what psychology believes is in the public interest in this controversy.”

The APA has expressed its support in the past for allowing homosexuals in the military and as Boy Scout leaders. And it long ago sided with the American Psychiatric Association in removing homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In doing so, the American Psychological Association approved a resolution declaring that “homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities.”

Removing homosexuality as a mental disorder was “the first step in a long-term agenda to normalize the practice of homosexuality in the eyes of the public,” said Sprigg.

Another conservative group, Focus on the Family, has criticized the APA for its endorsement of same-sex marriage, claiming that it would make “lab rats” out of children exposed to the “social experiment.”

The American Psychological Association in recent years “has become more and more involved in advocacy for certain political viewpoints,” said Bill Maier, vice president of Focus on the Family.

Maier said APA’s endorsement of homosexual marriage does not necessarily mean that rank-and-file psychologists agree with the decision, but rather that the idea comes from “a very powerful special interest” inside the APA—the Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns.

“A scientific organization has no place in advocating social policy,” said Maier. “That’s not their role.”

Individuals unhappy with their same-sex attractions often refuse to get help from psychologists, said Arthur Goldberg, co-director of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). That’s because the American Psychological Association is perceived to be an organization dedicated to political correctness, he said. The APA is critical of professional attempts to change sexual orientation.

“They need to know they have the ability to change, and unfortunately the politically correct focus is to try to keep this as a secret ... to not let people know they have the ability to change,” said Goldberg. He said that people who are unhappy with their same-sex attractions often turn to “ex-gay” or religious organizations that have training in the “gender affirming process” instead of seeing traditional psychologists.

Ron Schlittler, interim executive director of PFLAG (Parents, Families Friends of Lesbians Gays), has a different perspective. The endorsement of same-sex marriage by “respected organizations that a lot of people look to for thoughtful fact-based information” such as the APA is helpful, he said.

“Just because they conclude that what the gay and lesbian community has been saying all along happens to be true doesn’t make them apologists or out with a certain agenda,” said Schlittler. He added that groups that portray themselves as pro-family and condemn homosexual marriage are “choosing to not pay attention to the richness and texture of what the American family really is.”

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