Cardin Responds to IHF Defamation Claims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 27, 2014

CONTACT: Joshua Greenfeld, Legislative Director
Tel: 410-841-3833
E-mail: jon.cardin@house.state.md.us

CARDIN RESPONDS TO IHF DEFAMATION CLAIMS

ANNAPOLIS- On March 27, 2014 Delegate Jon Cardin published an open letter responding to the so-called ex-gay treatment and advocacy organization the International Healing Foundation’s claims of “defamatory statements” about the organization’s operations.  On Tuesday, Christopher Doyle, founder of the IHF issued a statement to the conservative blog BARBWIRE pledging to investigate “Defamation and Discriminatory Conduct” on behalf of the delegate. 

Cardin recently introduced legislation that would revoke the medical license of anyone who practices therapies intended to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a minor due to its harmful effects and its ineffective nature.  The International Healing Foundation was named in public statements as a facility that practices such therapies in Maryland. 

In its statement to BARBWIRE, the IHF said, “Since 1990, IHF has helped thousands of individuals with unwanted SSA (same-sex attraction) and families struggling with sexual orientation, but on at least two separate occasions, Del. Cardin made defamatory statements about the organization in reference to HB 91. With the help of Garza Regan & Associates, Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorneys in Maryland, IHF is launching an investigation into Cardin’s activities with Equality Maryland and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.”

Cardin responded sharply, welcoming the investigation.  The open letter read, in part, “I introduced HB91, a bill banning ex-gay therapy, because I firmly believe that no one should be afraid to be who they are, and that homosexuality and gender identity are neither a choice nor an illness.   I respect and will defend your right to believe what you want to believe and practice medicine meeting recognized standards of care.  However, you do not have a right to inflict a lifetime of serious psychological damage on children by preaching false science disguised as medicine.  I welcome any investigations you or your lawyers wish to pursue.”

Read the full text of Delegate Cardin's letter below:

March 27, 2014

RE: International Healing Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom

Open Letter to Mr. Christopher Doyle:

In response to your recent statements regarding my efforts to limit reparative therapy in the state of Maryland, I welcome the opportunity to justify my position and challenge your accusations that my actions are politically motivated.  In your statement, you claim that your foundation has helped thousands of individuals “struggling with sexual orientation” and that it serves as a “beacon of hope in Maryland and around the world helping individuals conflicted about their sexual orientation.”

From the information I have gleaned from your website and other propaganda, your organization has one purpose: to teach people that being gay is wrong and to profit off of the ignorance of those who agree with you.  You think you’re treating mental illnesses. In reality you very well may be creating them while traumatizing teenagers and others by promoting the arcane idea that any sexual orientation or gender identity besides heterosexuality is something that needs to be fixed. 

You claim you are embracing these individuals who come to you for help with respect and love, but you are denying liability for further stigmatizing a community that should be accepted for who they are.  Might it be misguided approaches like yours that make LGBTQ youth attempt suicide at a rate of four times higher than their straight peers? Might it be because of your philosophy that we still have not achieved equal rights for all Marylanders regardless of sexual orientation or identity?

I introduced HB91, a bill banning ex-gay therapy, because I firmly believe that no one should be afraid to be who they are, and that homosexuality and gender identity are neither choices nor illnesses. You believe that LGBTQ youth are inherently sinful, unclean, and immoral.  Because of the irreparable harm your foundation causes children, I am proudly working with Equality Maryland, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Trevor Project, Truth Wins Out, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and others to revoke the medical license of anyone who treats sexual identity as an illness. What we learned through the legislative process is that these therapies by licensed practitioners are likely a violation of the standard of care as defined by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical associations. And therefore, Maryland regulations give licensing boards the authority to sanction those who practice said substandard therapies.

I respect and will defend your right to believe what you want to believe and practice medicine meeting recognized standards of care.  However, you do not have a right to inflict a lifetime of serious psychological damage on children by preaching false science disguised as medicine.  I welcome any investigations you or your lawyers wish to pursue.

Sincerely,

Jon S. Cardin

Read the full text of the IHF Statement Below

International Healing Foundation Demands Answers From Anti-Ex-’Gay’ Md. Delegate Jon Cardin

Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorneys to Investigate Defamation and Discriminatory Conduct

Bowie, MD — International Healing Foundation (IHF), a non-profit therapeutic organization based in Bowie, Maryland is demanding answers from Md. Del. Jon Cardin, who recently introduced, then withdrew, HB 91, which proposed banning licensed mental health practitioners in Maryland from helping minor clients who seek to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA).

Since 1990, IHF has helped thousands of individuals with unwanted SSA and families struggling with sexual orientation, but on at least two separate occasions, Del. Cardin made defamatory statements about the organization in reference to HB 91. With the help of Garza Regan & Associates, Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorneys in Maryland, IHF is launching an investigation into Cardin’s activities with Equality Maryland and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“For nearly 25 years, IHF has been a beacon of hope in Maryland and around the world helping individuals conflicted about their sexual orientation. Our reputation is spotless in the state of Maryland. There has never been one complaint to the state licensing board over our therapeutic services. Why then, is Del. Cardin discouraging Maryland families struggling with homosexuality to seek help from us,” commented Christopher Doyle, licensed clinical professional counselor and the Director of IHF. “Cardin’s statements regarding our work with those who experience unwanted SSA is equivalent to discrimination. We support the rights of all clients, gay-identified and those who experience unwanted SSA – however, Del. Cardin’s actions appear to be motivated by politics, not fairness for all Marylanders.”

IHF offers psychotherapy for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community as well as for those who experience unwanted SSA. Clients, including minors, set the goals for therapy, and the counseling is always focused on their stated objectives. For more information on IHF’s treatment guidelines, visit: www.ComingOutLoved.com.

After withdrawing HB 91, Cardin publicly spoke against IHF and pledged to work with state boards that govern therapeutic practices to change administrative policies, but did not go into specifics as to what policies he would seek to change.

“Del. Cardin should not interfere with the business of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in order to appease Equality Maryland and others who seek to violate the rights of clients with unwanted SSA,” commented Doyle. “It is outrageous that a state-elected official would discourage, or believe it’s a problem, for a sexual minority population to pursue a therapy that is both legal and ethical,” commented Doyle.

In a March 14 press conference, Cardin stated the need for increased regulation around Sexual Orientation Change Effort therapy for minors because of his view that changing sexual orientation is harmful, yet failed to provide any scientific evidence to back up his claims, nor could he point to any such minors in Maryland who have allegedly been harmed by a licensed mental health practitioner.

“Del. Cardin should speak with the countless adolescents and families who have been helped, not harmed, by IHF since 1990. His statements marginalize former homosexuals and clients in Maryland who have unwanted SSA and seek change through their own volition. Instead of persecuting them, Cardin should actually sit down with these individuals to see how he could truly serve them. Everyone should be able to pursue the life that feels right to them, and this effort to defame our work and discriminate against children and families who are simply trying to live out their sincerely held values and beliefs is wrong,” commented Doyle.