Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Society • Fined for Helping Gays?

Preparing to check into a Ft. Worth, Texas hotel, I was greeted by a personable desk clerk who seemed to want to talk.  There is something about my presence that seems to stimulate the biographical impulse.

After some small talk he worked his way to the point he wanted to make. “You know don’t you?”  “What?” I answered, “that you are gay?” That seemed to relax him. It was a small hotel and there was no activity in the lobby.

The young man then told me how he was miserable being who he is and had a friend who shared the same sentiments. So they both took another job, working two jobs so they could earn enough money to see a psychiatrist.

They worked hard to earn the fees necessary and began their appointments. However, the psychiatrist was himself gay and tried coming on to them. They were both devastated, convinced at this point that there was no hope. They both began to plan how to commit suicide.

Fortunately, we had a productive talk that canceled those plans.

It was just decided in a federal court in San Francisco by two judges who pushed and passed the first law if its kind; one that prohibits licensed psychotherapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of gay youth.  It was ruled that to do so “violates the Constitution.” (?)

The measure is certain to take effect on January 1st. Counter suits have been filed; one [that] the ban on ‘conversion’ therapy unfairly tramples on civil rights while others argued that the strict law would make them liable for discipline and fines even if they only recommended the therapy to patients or even discussed it with them.  This case has opened a can of legal worms.

The most troubling is that Gov. Jerry Brown stated that therapists and counselors who use ‘sexual orientation change efforts” on clients younger than 18 would be subject to discipline by state licensing boards which could results in fines or loss of license.

This entire nutty San Francisco decision is totally out of place, even in San Francisco. If someone asks for help from a therapist or any other professional they should be able to receive that help.  Of course I profoundly reject any suggestion of forcing anyone to undergo this therapy.

People have the absolute right to make that choice, not be forced in either direction in order to advance a political agenda. We are dealing with human lives here, not political issues. Let’s show compassion towards all who come to us. That restrictive court decision is totally flawed and has no place in a free society.

I think of the young man in Ft. Worth who might have killed himself for not receiving the help he desperately desired.  Thank God that was prevented. And more can be prevented if professionals will be just that….professionals…who do not try to come on to those who seek direction and help. Everyone should show compassion, no matter which side they…or you…are on.

Rev. Austin Miles is a certified chaplain-counselor in the Bay Area who has a high success rate in suicide prevention.

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