AUSTIN, TEXAS--Jaime Gonzalez isn't sure why he agreed to go; all of his homosexual friends had warned him that the Washington, D.C. conference by "PFOX"-Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays-in February was going to be a gathering of "right-wing homophobes who hate gays." "One of my friends said it would be like a black man attending a KKK rally," says Jaime, 30. That's because Jaime Gonzalez, son of Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez, had announced to his family 15 months before that he was a homosexual. During those months he'd spent countless hours arguing theology, physiology, and ethics with his jurist father. When Raul asked him to attend the conference, Jaime agreed-on one condition. Raul had to meet with some of Jaime's homosexual friends. "We were both out of our comfort zones," Raul recalls. "But I was glad he agreed." Jaime says he expected the worst. "I expected to hear, 'There's the first faggot, now let's cast out those demons!' But I didn't. I felt nothing but love and acceptance. The condemnation I expected never materialized." What did materialize was Christ's love, he says. And during the conference, he accepted what he terms "God's peace," and he committed himself to the biblical standard of a chaste, sexually pure life. He abandoned the ramshackle pro-gay theology in which he'd steeped himself. "I'm able to stand upright, directly before God," he says now. "I know it's not going to be easy, but I'm committed." The position of Jaime and others is receiving support not only from Christians. The American Public Philosophy Institute, a neo-conservative group, is putting on a three-day conference on homosexuality and public life at Georgetown University in mid-June. Speakers are expected to point out that homosexuality can be treated and healed; that homosexuality is a public concern and not merely a private one; and that views favoring the legitimization of homosexual conduct can and should be successfully fought. The Gonzalez story is not just that of a prodigal son and the faith of his father. It's also a story about the backlash against those who challenge pro-homosexual orthodoxy. Justice Gonzalez, a conscientious Christian, a "born-again Roman Catholic" who has consistently applied his faith to his legal opinions, is now a target of homosexual activists and their supporters in the media and within the legal community. He took his first hits last month, when the editor of the Texas Lawyer newspaper published a harsh attack on him for encouraging his son to change, and for helping his son start a PFOX chapter in Austin. "As Gonzalez tries to assist his son," shouted a headline on page 2 of the paper, "others will be hurt." "Groups like Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, and PFOX, among others on the Religious Right, are as responsible as any entity for the contempt and hatred many Americans feel toward gays and lesbians," wrote Texas Lawyer editor Robert Elder. "Despite wrapping their message in terms of acceptance and love, the message is that homosexuality is wrong-and can, with enough faith, be remedied. These groups bolster their case with science and theories that make creation science look sound." Raul, a pro-life Democrat who has already fallen from favor within his party (it spent $3 million in the 1994 primary to try to unseat the popular Hispanic, fielding a pro-abortion woman), isn't surprised at the attack. "The writer of the piece is simply convinced that homosexuality is something you're born with, and you can't change," he says. "And for all their talk of tolerance, they have no respect for anyone who disagrees with that." The "gayness is genetic" axiom is at the core of the homosexual-rights movement. Any challenge to that creed-whether by ministries or therapists or even other homosexuals-is met head-on:
**red_square** At Cornell University in 1995, a professor of plant pathology was accused of harassing homosexuals when he posted information advertising an information packet titled "Alternative to Homosexuality Anonymous." James Aist was eventually cleared of the charges by the Cornell University Office of Equal Opportunity, but only after the Rutherford Institute defended him last year. **red_square** In 1993, hospice coordinator Debra Kelly was fired from her job in Philadelphia because her supervisor learned of her Christian faith. Complaining that Miss Kelly's beliefs made her "intolerant," the supervisor claimed that she wasn't qualified to work with AIDS patients. Her discrimination suit was settled out-of-court. **red_square** During a management seminar for Texas Commerce Bank supervisors last year, Betty Sabatino asked a question about the firm's policy manual. Why, she inquired, would the company give special consideration to gays and lesbians, based solely on behavior? A few days later, her boss took her aside and told her he was concerned by her question. Then the company's Human Resources Department contacted her about "counseling." And less than a month after she asked that question, she was fired for "management's loss of confidence with employee." **red_square** And when Christian psychologist John Jeffrey testified during a 1993 Texas custody hearing that a remarried heterosexual mother was a more fit parent than the homosexual father (who lived with his boyfriend), homosexual activists filed 36 charges with the state board of psychology. The State Board of Psychology brought in a pro-gay psychologist to bolster its case against Dr. Jeffrey, but the charges were eventually dropped.
It's not surprising that the Texas board came down so hard on Dr. Jeffrey; since the 1950s, the official view of homosexuality has been changing within the fields of psychology and psychiatry. The American Psychiatric Association's guide, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), at one time referred to homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance. But a 1968 revision of the DSM (which was being formulated at the time of the high-profile Stonewall riots) downgraded homosexuality to a "deviation." By 1973, homosexuality as a disorder was out of the DSM altogether. Moreover, the latest DSM has downgraded pedophilia to a sexual disorder that can't even be diagnosed unless the patient "shows clinically significant distress or impairment in important areas of functioning," according to Wheaton College's G.E. Zuriff. That means it's not a sickness if the pedophile doesn't feel bad about it. But not everyone is convinced. A group of psychologists, social workers, and educators is challenging the politically correct view that homosexuals can't-and shouldn't want to-change. NARTH, the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, published an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, asking health professionals not to forsake homosexuals who want help. "Suppose that a young man, seeking help for a psychological condition that was associated with serious health risks and made him desperately unhappy, were to be told by the professional he consulted that no treatment is available, that his condition is permanent and genetically based, and that he must learn to live with it," NARTH argued. "Every day young men seek help because they are experiencing an unwanted sexual attraction to other men, and are told their condition is untreatable.... Young men and the parents of at-risk males have a right to know that prevention and effective treatment are available." Jaime Gonzalez isn't seeking any formal treatment; but neither is he "white-knuckling it," as ex-gays term trying to change without any help at all. Jaime is working as a paralegal for a downtown Austin law firm until he goes off to Lubbock to the Texas Tech law school in the fall. Already he looks the part of a bright young lawyer. His shirt is crisp despite the smothering humidity; his suspenders are on the right side of fashionable. He works a couple of blocks over from his dad's Texas Supreme Court office; he's walked over and he takes a seat on a plush leather couch in his dad's office. "The hardest thing for me now is not sexualizing images," he says. "We're to appreciate beauty, but I have to stop myself when I get to the point of thinking, 'I wonder if he's gay, I wonder what it would be like to jump into bed with him.'" Jaime says he still struggles with same-sex attraction. "I have to keep myself busy," he says. "I teach English as a second language; I teach a citizenship class. I also meet with two Christian support groups. I don't know if I'll ever be rid of these feelings; I don't know if I'll ever be completely heterosexual. But I'm open to the workings of the Holy Spirit." Raul is still (admittedly) a bit of a bull in a china shop. He says he wants more grandchildren, and he hopes Jaime will someday provide them; Jaime is visibly bothered by his father's talk of a cure and recovery. "It's painful to hear things like that because what do they say? They say that I'm ill," Jaime explains. "If I had come out of heterosexual sin, would I be considered so?" Raul accepts the mild rebuke. "That's why I say I'm a recovering homophobe," Raul smiles. "And he's right. We have elevated homosexual sin over and above adultery, divorce, and fornication. On those issues, the Church has allowed Christianity to be watered down." To see Raul and Jaime interact is to see a vibrant father-son relationship at work, iron sharpening iron. But it hasn't always been that way. Raul blames himself for Jaime's skewed sexual orientation. At the PFOX conference, he was told that homosexuality is often the result of a weak or nonexistent bond between a son and his father during the first three years. "Where was I? I was obsessed with my career," Raul admits. "I wasn't physically present for our son because I was busy chasing power and prestige." Jaime nods. "And when I was in high school, our relationship was nonexistent." "You thought I was too old-fashioned," Raul says. "You were too old-fashioned," Jaime replies with a grin. "But the thing is, now I'm starting to sound like you."