Former gay and trans people from the group Changed & Church United have descended upon Washington this week to lobby against two proposed LGBTQ-rights bills.
The two California-based organizations seek to provide for people who formerly identified as lesbian, bisexual , gay or transgender.
The bill, H.R. 5 (better known as the Equality Act) and H.R. 3570, or the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act. have both been supported by the country’s major LGBTQ advocacy organizations. Neither is expected to become law. Not anytime soon.
These groups believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are choices and that homosexuality can be “overcome” through therapy and religious support. This belief is not shared by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.
The Equality Act, if passed, would update federal civil rights legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education and federal programs. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act would classify conversion therapy — a medically debunked practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity — in exchange for monetary compensation as a fraudulent practice.
Kathy Grace Duncan, a member of Changed who formerly identified as a transgender man, told NBC,
“I live in Portland [Oregon] and I don’t see the discrimination that LGBTQ people talk about. They’re asking for certain rights in this legislation, but these are rights that they already have.”
Jim Domen, founder of Church United, identifies as formerly gay and says,
“Sexual behavior should not be a protected right.
“Changing the Civil Rights Act would create a super class for anyone identifying as LGBTQ at the expense of people who are not. The Equality Act treats sexual preference as an elevated class and would strip people of religious freedom.”
Ryan Thoreson, an LGBTQ researcher at Human Rights Watch said,
“No one should be refused service, denied care or otherwise discriminated against because of their gender or sexuality. This legislation affirms people’s gender and sexual identities and provides clear protections for those who’ve been routinely discriminated against in health care and adoption services, education, housing, etc.”
Maybe this group of people doesn’t feel it’s been discriminated against when they identified as LGBTQ+, but whether a particular group feels like it’s discriminated against isn’t an indication of whether discrimination exists for other people. There’s a clear consensus from groups that work with LGBTQ+ people that this legislation will benefit them and help them live better lives.”
Members of Changed also deny that conversion therapy even exists and
“think conversion therapy should be banned, but first we need to prove that it’s actually happening.”
But Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and public affairs at The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention nonprofit for LGBTQ youth, and a survivor of conversion therapy, says it’s discredited and
“useless a practice as snake oil.
It is still widely practiced at the expense of the mental and emotional health of LGBTQ people.”
Brinton cited research from UCLA’s Williams Institute that found more than 700,000 LGBTQ adults have been subjected to conversion therapy at some point in their life, and that an estimated 80,000 LGBTQ youth will be subjected to the practice in the coming years.
Currently, 18 states and D.C. ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors. But members of Changed still say they,
“love LGBTQ people.”
Funny way to show it by denying someone’s right to be who they are.
(Photos, Changed, screen grabs; via NBC News)