Acceptance of sexual behavior modification presents a difficult challenge to the gay movement. Much of the ideology surrounding the civil rights defense is built on the premise that sexuality is inextricably tied to identity, just as a person's race, gender or country of origin is. Thus, because sexuality is assumed to be an inborn trait, it requires civil rights protection. Anything else would be unjust.
To suggest that sexual orientation may be intertwined with nurture, trauma, experience or desire is to complicate the victories the LGBTQ community has won using this civil rights argument. But to ignore these mysteries not only undignifies that community, it limits another constitutionally protected class: the religious.
So we must learn to make room for both religious freedom and personal choice. The LGBTQ community can still fight for the rights it desires while conceding that not every person with same-sex attraction is at peace with their sexuality.
It may not agree with the ways an individual may seek to resolve those tensions, but the gay rights movement must respect individuals' decisions to pursue their own paths.
In the same way, religious leaders who oppose gay rights must accept that gay Americans are afforded the same religious liberty protections. Human sexuality is a complicated spiritual, psychological and physical issue. Everyone --- gay or straight --- as minors or adults, deserves the right to wrestle with their sexuality in the manner most appropriate to their needs. Saying so shouldn't become an impediment to civil rights.
Limiting choice for anyone seeking personal change restricts a fundamental human right.
Any person seeking change --- whether behavioral, relational, physical, sexual or emotional --- has a fundamental right to pursue it. This must remain a basic freedom for both a licensed therapist and her client to explore all possible options in the privacy and confidentiality of their relationship.
We all have friends or family members who have experienced sexual or psychological childhood trauma. This is a reality for both gay and straight individuals, and such trauma often shapes one's view of life and the world. While not every individual or family would choose to pursue therapy that is open to the idea of questioning the innate good of one's sexual impulses, it is a valid avenue to help adults, teenagers and families seek understanding, gain clarity and take action to live in alignment with their values.
In the same way that this therapy should not be forced on anyone, it should also not be forcibly removed. Doing so goes against our Declaration's insistence on every American's right to "the pursuit of happiness" and a parent's right to help his/her child.
Any debate touching on issues of sexuality is complicated, emotional and intensely personal. But each one presents an opportunity for each of us to wrestle with how best to live alongside one another, despite deep differences. Instead of treating these debates as zero-sum games where the winner takes all, we should fight to protect the rights and opportunities for each citizen to seek out truth and wholeness. Because if that freedom goes, so do the rest.