Press Room

October 04, 2011

Category: Health & Aging

Herman Cain Believes Being Gay is a Choice

GOP presidential candidate ignores science and mainstream American values

10/4/2011 

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – is calling on Herman Cain to better educate himself on LGBT Americans following remarks he made in which he called being gay a choice. Cain made his remarks while appearing on “The View” this morning, saying: “You show me the science that says that it's not. Could be persuaded. Right now it's my opinion against the opinion of others who feel differently. That's just a difference of opinion.”

“Herman Cain’s remarks that homosexuality is a choice are, frankly, jaw-dropping and certainly unbecoming of a presidential hopeful,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Leading medical organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, all speak with a loud and clear voice – implying that someone’s sexual orientation can be chosen or changed is dangerous. HRC is eager to connect Herman Cain with medical professionals who can walk him through the very basic science that he says he is seeking out.”

Dr. Jack Drescher, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, is willing to meet with Cain to discuss the medical aspects of the matter.

Cain’s remarks are dangerous because implying that homosexuality is a choice gives unwarranted credence to roundly disproven practices such as ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy. The risks associated with attempts to consciously change one’s sexual orientation include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. The American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association and the American Psychiatric Association are clear on the dangers of promoting and carrying out reparative therapy.

The American Psychological Association says of homosexuality: “The prejudice and discrimination that people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual regularly experience have been shown to have negative psychological effects…most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

The American Medical Association says in its official statement: “[The AMA] opposes, the use of "reparative" or "conversion" therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

The American Counseling Association says it "opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation; and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based on ignorance or unfounded beliefs about same-gender sexual orientation."

The American Psychiatric Association echoes other leading medical organizations in coming out against attempts to change sexual orientation: “Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction….Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.”

Learn more about the dangers of reparative therapy. HRC members and supporters can act now to tell Herman Cain they don’t agree with his message that homosexuality is a choice.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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