Dr. Robert Spitzer, who played a
prominent role in the declassification of homosexuality as a
pathology, died Friday.
According to the AP, Spitzer, 83, died
of heart problems in Seattle.
Spitzer's wife, Columbia University
Professor Emerita Janet Williams, worked with him on the third
edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The D.S.M. defined all of the major
disorders “so all in the professional could agree on what they were
seeing,” Williams told the
She called it a “major breakthrough.”
After meeting with gay rights
activists, Spitzer determined that being gay was not a mental
“A medical disorder either had to be
associated with subjective distress – pain – or general
impairment in social function,” Spitzer told The Washington
He led the campaign to remove
homosexuality from the list of disorders in the D.S.M. in 1973.
In comments to The New York Times,
Dr. Jack Drescher credited Spitzer's work for helping advance
marriage equality: “The fact that gay marriage is allowed today is
in part owed to Bob Spitzer.”
Robert Spitzer regrets 2001 study supporting “ex-gay” therapy.)