Ex-gay therapy survivor testifies at gay marriage trial

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A gay man who was forced to undergo ‘reparative therapy’ to make him straight has given evidence before a trial on California’s gay marriage ban.

Ryan Kendall, 26, told the court his Christian parents discovered he was gay at the age of 13.

He said that he was forced to undergo the controversial ‘cure’ therapy for nearly two years as a teenager and was first sent to see a Christian therapist and then the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

Kendall testified that the therapy had left him feeling suicidal.

He said: “I remember my mother looking at me and telling me I was going to burn in hell.

“I knew I was gay, just like I knew I was short and half Hispanic. I never thought those facts would change.”

He was cross-examined gently by an attorney for the opposing side.

Lawyer James Campbell asked him whether someone people voluntarily went to organisations such as NARTH to become straight, although Kendall said in his experience, people “don’t want to go” to such therapies.

The federal court is the first to examine whether the ban on gay marriage in California violates the constitution.

Also in court yesterday was Stanford University political scientist Gary M Segura, who testified that gays and lesbians do not have “meaningful degree of political power”.

According to the San Jose Mercury, he said: “There is no group in America ….who’ve been targeted by ballot initiatives more than gays and lesbians.”

Segura was referring to dozens of voter initiatives which denied or removed rights to gays, including the 33 states which have constitutional bans on gay marriage.

In cross-examination, opposing attorneys cited a number of influential gay figures, including John Perez, the new Speaker of the California Assembly.

Of US President Barack Obama, who promised a number of gay rights reforms in his election campaign, Segura said: “This is not a reliable ally.”

Lawyers for the two gay couples opposing Proposition 8 are expected to wrap up their case on Friday.

Today, they were due to call two final witnesses, one of whom is to be a hostile witness.

William Tam, a supporter of Proposition 8, had said that if gay marriage was allowed, “other states would fall into Satan’s hands” and that gays would try to legalise paedophilia.

He had asked to be dismissed from appearing in court. Lawyers for gay marriage are thought to have called him to show that arguments against marriage equality are founded in prejudice.