Del. Jon Cardin
Del. Jon Cardin

In one corner we have Del. Jon Cardin, Democrat and candidate for Maryland Attorney General. In the other corner we have Christopher Doyle, director of the Bowie-based International Healing Foundation, a non-profit organization practicing “gay conversion therapy” since 1990. Cardin introduced a bill banning mental health professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with minors before withdrawing it in favor of using regulatory oversight to attack the practice. Cardin specifically maligned the efforts of the IHF to, in their words, help “minor clients who seek to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA).”

On March 25, Doyle accused Cardin of “defamation” and promised to launch “an investigation into Cardin’s activities with Equality Maryland and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.” Doyle said his attacks on the practice as lacking scientific basis and even amount to discrimination “against children and families who are simply trying to live out their sincerely held values and beliefs.”

Two days later, Cardin shot back with an open letter. It didn’t contain any citations of scientific studies, but it did assert that gay conversion therapy is condemned by groups like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. (It’s strange that the letter barely implies what to my mind are much weightier criticisms from the likes of the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Psychiatric Association. Or maybe it’s stranger that Doyle feigns ignorance of the positions of those organizations.) Cardin reiterated his opinion that the conversion therapy likely violates the standard of care.

According to Cardin’s own numbers, his open letter (posted on his campaign site) garnered 185,000 views in less than 24 hours.

It’s not exactly a fair fight. I mean, the argument against conversion therapy writes itself. But I’m calling this one for Cardin.