The Washington Post reported this week on the D.C. Council unanimously banning gay conversion therapy of minors.
The Post boils down the measure this way:
The bill, authored by council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), bans efforts by licensed mental health providers to seek to change a minor’s sexual orientation “including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender.” It was opposed by the Family Research Council and some religious organizations.
“While steps toward remedying the counterproductive anti-homosexual mindset have been taken,” Alexander wrote, “this measure will serve as a crucial step in that long battle.
Besides highlighting the possibility of legal challenges, the short piece makes room for a quote from a gay-rights group:
In a statement, Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the pro-gay Human Rights Campaign, praised the decision but cast it as incremental step.
“While the LGBT youth in our nation’s capital will soon be protected once this bill is signed into law,” Warbelow said, “HRC is committed to making sure these kinds of protections are secured throughout the entire nation.”
From a journalistic perspective, what's missing?
That would be any explanation of why the Family Research Council and "some religious organizations" opposed the bill. Moreover, the Post fails to identify the organizations with concerns.
The story's lede included a link to an archived story from June on the D.C. Council weighing the possible gay therapy ban. I clicked the link, thinking that perhaps the opposition's position was covered previously. But that story, too, failed to reflect the other side.
Could this be a case of what your GetReligionistas call "Kellerism?" In a post earlier this week, tmatt explained that term:
(I)f you need some background info on retired New York Times editor Bill Keller and the statements in which he promulgated the "Kellerism" doctrines, click here. The key is that "Kellerism" journalism argues that there is no need to be balanced and fair in coverage of news about religion and culture, since urban, sophisticated journalists already know who is in the right on those kinds of issues.
Unlike the Post, D.C.'s LGBT magazine Metro Weekly did quote a Family Research Council official — along with gay-rights advocates:
But Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, a right-leaning organization that that lobbies on behalf of traditional marriage and opposes efforts to restrict reparative therapies, blasted the Council, saying it had “disregarded powerful testimony by therapists who debunked misconceptions about sexual reorientation therapy and by clients who had benefitted from it.”
“This new law is an outrageous assault upon the freedom of speech of therapists, the freedom of religion of clients who seek help in living lives consistent with their faith, and the privacy of the therapist-client relationship,” Sprigg said. “Laws like the ones in California, New Jersey and now in D.C. are completely unprecedented. Never before has a state outlawed a form of mental health counseling based not upon the techniques used, but solely upon the goal which the client seeks to achieve. This is a shocking violation of the longstanding ethical principle of client autonomy.
“There is no scientific research demonstrating that sexual orientation change efforts cause harm to minors – none,” Sprigg continued. “States and jurisdictions should respect the privacy of the therapist-client relationship, not impose restrictions that prevent young people from getting the help that some so desperately want.”
See what Metro Weekly did there?
It's called journalism.