Affirmation Member Helps Bring National Attention to “Conversion Therapy”
by Hugo Salinas
Since the publication of this post in 2012, Evergreen International, referenced below, merged with North Star. While North Star doesn’t endorse “any particular form of therapy for addressing sexuality or other mental or emotional health issues,” they appear to believe that some people may wish to seek, and may benefit from, some “therapeutic approaches” to assist them in living “a life in harmony with LDS doctrines and practices.” Many in the early leadership of North Star were involved in conversion therapy, with some eventually resigning their leadership roles in the organization to make it more clear that, “North Star has never advocated any specific therapy, including reparative or ‘conversion’ therapy.”
In a historic case which received national media attention, Affirmation member Sam Wolfe is helping bring a lawsuit against an organization that claims to convert people from gay to straight.
Sam, who is a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, is bringing the lawsuit on behalf of four former patients of JONAH, a Jewish organization which, much like Evergreen, claims to “heal” gays and lesbians by diminishing or curing their same-sex attraction.
Sam was featured on Current TV’s Joy Behar Show on November 28 and on CNN on December 1, and was quoted in stories in The Salt Lake Tribune and The New York Times. The lawsuit was also covered by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, ABC News, and other media outlets around the country.
“This is the first time that survivors of ‘conversion therapy’ have brought a lawsuit in a court of law seeking to hold ‘conversion therapists’ responsible for the harm that they have perpetrated on our clients and many others,” Sam told Doug Frabrizio on the November 28 episode of Radio West.
“We brought this case in New Jersey; there they have a strong consumer protection law that is among the strongest in the country,” Sam added. “JONAH and Alan Downing, a counselor for JONAH, as well as the founder of JONAH Arthur Goldberg… violated this law by giving false promises to our clients that if they would follow JONAH’s program, if they tried hard enough, if they went through all of these exercises, that they would essentially turn from gay to straight; and we are seeking to hold them accountable for their false representations and for the harm caused.”
Despite the lawsuit, Evergreen continued to link to JONAH at its website.
“These [groups] seem to be generally reliable groups with principles compatible with Evergreen’s mission,” the Evergreen site claims. “However, we do not endorse any one of them unconditionally.”