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Rachel Maddow Vs. Ex-Gay Conversion Therapist

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Dec 9, 2009 5:40PM

And it was our favorite lesbian political commentator for the win. Richard Cohen, author of the "sexual reorientation" manual Coming Out Straight, appeared last night on Maddow's MSNBC show, responding to the anchor's previous reports addressing American links (including his own) that inspired proposed Ugandan legislation that would mandate strict penalties, including life imprisonment and execution of "serial offenders" of homosexuality. Gay rights advocates say the new legislation will likely pass.

Cohen said he did not support the Ugandan proposals, stating his organization advocates for the loving treatment of all homosexuals, not only of "those who choose" that lifestyle, but also those who realize that "change is possible" by converting to full-fledged happy heterosexuals. Like himself. And the "thousands" of gay and lesbian persons he's helped "come out of homosexuality" worldwide.

But Maddow came out with a number of punches, making a strong case that Cohen "had blood on his hands" as several professionally discredited claims from his books appear to have been used as ammo for the Ugandans' efforts to punish its nation's gay community. Chief among these claims are arguments that homosexuals are far more likely to molest children and that gay rights leaders have "been targeting youth" and "leading [children] into a homosexual lifestyle for decades. She also called out Cohen on his "factors" contributing to homosexuality: Divorce, death of a parent, adoption, religion or race - yes, race - and further linked Cohen's organization, the International Healing Foundation, to the anti-gay Ugandan legislation taking wing.

In response to Maddow's claims, Cohen backpedalled, stating that future editions of his book would not include the erroneous molestation claims and that race, indeed, does not contribute to "causing" homosexuality. But he still maintained that he is a professional psychoanalyst, based on his personal experiences. Despite the fact that he is not a licensed therapist and was expelled from the American Counseling Association due to "ethical concerns." But Maddow still grabbed the win, driving her argument home with one simple fact underlying all Cohen's arguments: That he lacks scientific credentials. She had this message for Uganda or any other country considering similar, drastically anti-gay legislation based on his claims:

"I want you to know that [Cohen] is not licensed by any American or any other licensing body whatsoever ... There is no evidence of what Mr. Cohen suggests but nevertheless he's operating an organization that would like to sell you a lot of products that would convince you that it is true."

The sentiment that gay people do not deserve full human rights, are dangerous to society and deserving of death penalties is not just an extremist effort in a faraway land. The hatred has its roots here and deserves to be exposed. Kudos to Maddow and all those who stand against injustice.