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MassResistance activists help stop bills in legislatures across the country that would ban reparative therapy for youth

Big victories (and a few tough losses) against national push from LGBT lobbying machine

Here are the stories of what happened in 7 states

June 18, 2019
ALT TEXT This team of Colorado MassResistance parents really covered the waterfront inside the Colorado State House that day!

A top priority of the LGBT movement is to pass their outrageous “therapy ban” bills in states where they previously failed to get them through. These cruel bills would make it illegal for licensed therapists to help children who were sexually molested or otherwise traumatized and as a result experience unwanted same-sex attraction or “gender identity” confusion.

Several state legislatures that wisely rejected these bills in the past were being targeted again this year by the powerful LGBT lobby.

The LGBT lobby and its radical supporters were particularly energized this year. Across the country in 2018, Democrats won an impressive margin of seats in the United States Congress. Some of this momentum spilled over into state races where they took over a few governors’ seats, and Democrats increased their numbers in many state legislatures. Fortunately, they did not win outright majorities in red states.

However, their inability to capture control of a state legislature did not mean that they would not press forward on the LGBT agenda there. Nor did it mean that Republican legislators wouldn’t cave to pressures from corporations, the liberal media, and the aggressive Left.

The first several months of 2019 became a critical time as the new legislatures reconvened. MassResistance was ready for anything – and we received calls for help from a number of states. We helped local activists lobby hard and effectively, and supplied information and talking points. In some cases, local groups were also in the fight. But we’re pleased to have been able to make a significant difference.

Below are the stories of what happened in seven states: Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Arizona, New York, Massachusetts, and Colorado.


Utah

Even though Utah is one of the reddest states in the United States with a long-standing reputation as a bastion of pro-family values, the truth is actually quite different. The Mormon Church, which has a major influence in the state both politically and socially, has slowly eased off its formerly strong stance against the LGBT agenda. An influx of liberals into the state over the past decade has also had a negative effect. As a result, the supposed “pro-family” Republican Party which governs at every level in Utah has become soft on homosexual and transgender issues.

Earlier this year, the leadership of the Mormon Church declared that they would neither endorse nor oppose HB 399, a bill which would have banned reparative therapy for minors. Even worse, the current Governor, Republican Gary Herbert, signaled his support for the legislation.

Activists in the Beehive State reached out to our office for help. Our Organization Director coordinated with local pro-family leaders in Salt Lake City. They specifically targeted the House Judiciary Committee, whose Vice-Chair, Craig Hall, was a key co-sponsor of the reparative therapy ban, HB 399.

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Members of the Judiciary Committee actually reached out to our team, asking for clear talking points to clarify why that bill—or any reparative therapy ban—must be stopped at all costs.

Following relentless pro-family pressure and lobbying, the chair of the Utah House Judiciary Committee offered amendments to the original bill. These amendments would re-write the bill to simply outlaw physical treatments like painful pressure or electro-shock therapy. This put the LGBT lobby in a quandary because these “physical treatments” don’t really exist, but those talking points are used by the Left to scare legislators into supporting these reparative therapy bans.

Sure enough, the LGBT lobby condemned the amendments! For them, the point of this legislative push was to undermine (and make illegal) the whole concept of assisting children to deal with unwanted homosexual feelings or “gender identity” confusion. They insisted on having everything they wanted, or having the entire bill scrapped.

As a result the legislation ended up being suspended and was never voted upon.

This was huge victory against disturbing odds, including the floundering statewide religious establishment, the weak Republican majority political apparatus, and the LGBT lobby in Utah. The Governor himself was prepared to sign off on something—anything—toward banning the life-saving therapy.


Nebraska

Nebraska has a unicameral legislature – only a State Senate. A particularly odious reparative therapy ban was filed this year by Senator Megan Hunt, a liberal-leaning member of the Senate and openly bisexual. The bill would have officially deemed “conversion therapy” an abusive, ineffective practice akin to child abuse. That strategy is becoming more common among pro-LGBT activists and anti-therapy proponents.

Nebraskans for Founders Values (NFFV) is a MassResistance affiliate and well-versed in lobbying their legislators. They began their heavy opposition to LB 167 immediately.

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At the public hearing, the NFFV team testified over three hours, plus got hundreds of emails from constituents across the state sent to the Nebraska Senate Judiciary Committee. Those efforts were immediately successful, forcing the bill onto an inactive list! The LGBT lobby in Nebraska was beaten soundly!


Minnesota

Another state that has become uncertain terrain is Minnesota, which has a Democratic Governor and Democrat control of the State House of Representatives. However, the Republicans have managed to hold onto the State Senate - and in fact they increased their number by two seats in special elections this year.

At the beginning of the 2019 session, two identical anti-therapy bills were filed – one in the House, HF12, and one in the Senate, SF83. These bans went beyond just youth to include adults also. Both bills were immediately sent to each branch’s Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. MassResistance activists went right to work and began contacting key members of those committees.

ALT TEXT Getting ready to enter a legislative office building at the Minnesota State Capitol.

The Senate seemed to be our best chance for stopping the bill. However, our Minnesota team did not trust that the so-called pro-family Republicans would stand their ground. The Minneapolis Star newspaper published an article describing how Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s 30-year-old daughter (who admittedly had a history of mental illness) was a lesbian who had suffered under so-called “conversion therapy.” The pro-LGBT media was also busy repeating the wide range of lies about what reparative therapy actually is, and was using every trick to shame and bully the Republican senate majority to cave in and vote for a reparative therapy ban.

The Senate debate on the bill was contentious. Finally, there was an attempt to pass the bill, but it failed on party lines.

However, some Republicans were starting to cave in and were looking for a compromise. At that point, there was a discussion of tying the conversion ban bill to the state’s Health and Human Services budget. Several MassResistance activists continued to lobby hard. State Senators assured our activists that they had no interest in trying to push any reparative therapy ban, and that idea also failed.

Special Session and Last Minute Push

When the formal session ended in May, the Minnesota Legislature had not completed its budget process. So the Governor called the Legislature back into a special session a few days later to finish that job.

There was still talk among members in the two chambers about attaching a reparative therapy ban as an amendment within the general Health and Human Services Budget. So the pro-family forces went back into action.

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Members of our Minnesota MassResistance team took nothing for granted. Throughout the state, our activists called their State House Reps and Senators to state their opposition to any ban on reparative therapy. Having heard loudly and clearly from citizens across the state, the final Health and Human Services budget included nothing on conversion therapy. This was a big success considering all the last-minute discussions and back-room deals that were taking place.


Arizona

At the beginning of this year’s legislative session, a Democrat State Senator introduced SB 1047, banning reparative therapy for minors. What made this bill more disconcerting, however, was that the legislation was co-sponsored by two Republican State Senators.

This session, both the State Senate and State House have only a one-seat Republican majority. Republican legislators in other states have crossed over with Democrats to help bring reparative therapy bans to governors’ desks before, and there was a big fear it would happen here.

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The bill started in the Senate, so MassResistance activists targeted the bill’s sponsor and co-sponsors in the Senate, and also made sure that the other Senators got lots of information to reject this bill. In particular, our activists worked on the State Senate leadership to stop this bill from even getting a hearing. Within one month, it was announced that the legislation would not be heard before the legislative deadlines.

Thus, SB 1047 died in the Arizona State Senate without one hearing scheduled! Without the forceful pressure of MassResistance activists across the state, it is likely that this bill could have made it through and become law!


Learning from the failures


New York

New York was a nightmare. Many people across the country are aware of what happened with the state’s horrible abortion law. But a terrible therapy ban passed, too.

For many years, left-wing, anti-cultural pro-LGBT interests had attempted one progressive agenda item after another, only to see the worst legislation die in the State Senate, which was controlled for a long time by a coalition of moderate Democrats along with the Republican minority caucus.

But in the 2018 election, enough far-left Democrats won to give them an outright majority in both chambers of the New York State Legislature – along with the record third-term election for Governor Andrew Cuomo.

And they moved with lightning speed. Within a few weeks of the new 2019 session, a flood of hideous legislation sailed through so quickly that conservatives had little opportunity to react. The whole legislative process was very sleazy and dishonest. These three bills were passed and signed into law within the first month: a full-on reparative therapy ban, a bill stipulating rights for so-called transgender individuals, and most radical pro-abortion law in the United States.

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In the short time available, New York MassResistance members connected with fellow activists and lobbyists in Albany, but the LGBT juggernaut and the corrupt legislative leadership proved too strong and too well-organized for pro-family forces to stop the legislation.


Massachusetts

Over the years, MassResistance activists have been able to successfully thwart numerous reparative therapy bans which the LGBT lobby had filed in previous sessions. This year, however, the pro-LGBT legislative leadership engaged in shady tactics, often keeping the public in the dark about the bill’s actual legislative process. The House and Senate leadership pushed the legislation through both chambers within one month. The normal process usually takes around nine months or so. (In Massachusetts each legislative session lasts two years.)

The leadership moved Bill H140 forward very early and at breathtaking speed, so conservatives would have little time to react. This was accompanied by an enormous amount of angry ranting and misinformation about the nature of this therapy by far-left legislators, who were determined not to lose this time.

It quickly passed the House surprisingly easily, 147-8, with 23 of the 32 House Republicans shamefully supporting this horrible bill.

Then it went right to the Senate. MassResistance activists across the state did the best they could to educate their Senators about the terrible damage this bill would do to children. In particular, members of our main office worked with the Chief of Staff for the Senate Republican Minority Leader, Bruce Tarr.

ALT TEXT Brian Camenker (right) and two Cape Cod MassResistance activists enter the office of the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee for a meeting on the anti-therapy bill.

But within a few days the bill had been passed by a few Senate committees and was on the Senate floor for a vote. When the debate on started, the Republicans brought up a few moderate talking points, but did not aggressively counter the Left’s rhetoric. Then there was a break while the six Senate Republicans held an extended caucus. It appeared they were planning a delaying tactic.

But when the session resumed, things took a turn for the worse. All six of these “pro-family” Republicans announced that they actually supported a reparative therapy ban, but then qualified their remarks by criticizing the process by which the legislation was being handled. It was pure cowardice in the face of the name-calling and hysterics by the pro-LGBT Senators.

When the vote came, the 34 Democrats all voted “Yes” and all six Republicans voted “Present.” The bill passed, and pro-family people were stunned and outraged. A few days later, RINO Governor Baker signed the bill into law.

It was a shameful display by the “Republicans” in the Massachusetts Legislature, whom many people had counted on to lead the fight against this kind of lunacy.


Colorado

Our Colorado MassResistance activists worked very hard to pressure lawmakers to reject a ban on reparative therapy, HB19-1129. Colorado MassResistance has an impressive number of activists all over the state. Our activists’ strategy was to form tight-knit coalitions with other local pro-family groups to confront this proposed legislation.

A big problem was that at the same time there was another major anti-family bill working its way through the Legislature. Bill HB19-1032 was a comprehensive sex-ed bill which would also ban teaching “abstinence only” sex-ed in public schools. This issue attracted far more attention and energy from pro-family activists in Colorado than the anti-therapy bill, including from our own MassResistance members.

In spite of this divided focus, teams of Colorado MassResistance activists paid a number of visits to the state capitol in Denver to fight both bills as best they could. They were surprised to find out that many of the staffers for key legislators did not know what was actually in either of the bills, and they often contradicted each other when we discussed the bills with them.

ALT TEXT Colorado MassResistance activist (right) describes to legislative staffer what's REALLY in these bills!

Our MassResistance members networked very well and connected with others across the state as best as they could. The progressive, anti-family, LGBT push proved too strong, however, and we lost. Both bills passed and were gleefully signed into law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is openly homosexual and aggressively left-wing.

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Looking over what happened in Colorado, we also realized that many pro-family groups were more interested in holding large protests at the state capitol – especially on the weekends when lawmakers aren’t even there – than in actual lobbying. Furthermore, many groups were focused extensively on the pro-life issues in the sex-ed bill, and had no virtually interest in fighting the anti-therapy bill. The long-term consequences of anti-therapy bills should not have been ignored, and sadly most pro-family activists just didn’t take those threats seriously enough, we believe.


Final Reflection


Despite some setbacks, we believe that all reparative therapy bans will eventually get struck down by the courts.

In NIFLA v. Becerra, the majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “professional speech” is just as protected as any other speech. This signaled that they are prepared to strike down reparative therapy bans across the country.

More recently, in Vazzo v. Tampa,a federal district judge in Florida struck down the Tampa Bay reparative therapy ban which had passed the previous year. The district judge relied on the legal opinion of the majority ruling in NIFLA to establish his own decision.

Shortly after the passage of a ban on reparative therapy for minors in Maryland, Virginia-based therapist and pro-family activist Chris Doyle filed his own lawsuit against the law in Doyle v. Hogan et al.According to some reports, the federal district judge in that state respects and follows closely the legal precedent of the Supreme Court, which very likely means that he will strike down Maryland’s reparative therapy ban.

With two different federal jurisdictions fighting this agenda, plus our own legislative activism and victories against these bans, these cases will likely head to the Supreme Court for a final decision—which will likely fall in favor of protecting the First Amendment and the rights of parents and children to pursue reparative therapy.

In the meantime, MassResistance activists will keep their eyes out for future attempts from the above state legislatures or other states ban reparative therapy for minors or adults.

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