|Rep. Vicky Hartzler (seen here accepting an award from the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins in 2018) helped an 'ex-gay' group lobby Congress by securing space for their forum.|
Thursday on Capitol Hill, there was a group of people who called themselves "ex-gays" lobbying against pro-LGBTQ legislation.
A group of people from across the country who formerly identified as gay and transgender have descended upon Washington this week to share their stories and lobby against two proposed LGBTQ-rights bills. The group is made up of 15 members of Church United and Changed, two California-based organizations that seek to provide community for, and protect the rights of, “formers” — individuals who formerly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The bills the group is lobbying against are H.R. 5, better known as the Equality Act, and H.R. 3570, or the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act. Both have been supported by the country’s major LGBTQ advocacy organizations, though neither is expected to become law anytime soon.
Their existence and plans were mostly ignored or laughed at by the LGBTQ community. We've seen "ex-gay" groups and personalities come and go. No matter how they repackage themselves as something new, they always pander the same old homophobia and ridiculous talking points.
But according to the Huffington Post, this group was able to hold a forum in the Cannon House Office Building, next to the office of Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, who is the sponsor of a bill outlawing "ex-gay" therapy.
How were they able to do this? Thanks to another Congressional leader who has a long history of opposing the LGBTQ community and our equality - Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
Because Changed held the forum in a taxpayer-funded congressional space, the event required a member of Congress to sponsor the discussion. And although the group both refused to disclose who that representative was and also denied that they knew their identity, a Capitol official familiar with scheduling told HuffPost that Hartzler was the member who signed off on the event.
A staffer for Hartzler initially denied she was the sponsor. “This was a Family Research Council event,” said Danny Jativa, Hartzler’s communications director.
Family Research Council does appear to have been involved in the event, as handouts supplied included FRC literature, including an “issue analysis” titled “Are Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows.”
After HuffPost pressed Hartzler’s office again over email, however, noting that a member of Congress would have had to sign off on the event, Jativa admitted that Hartzler had secured the meeting space for the group.
“The only involvement Rep. Hartzler’s office had with the event was putting in an order to request a meeting space. Our office, nor the member, participated in the event. We did not recruit nor advertise the event in any way, shape, or form,” Jativa said.
The Huffington Post points out that Rep. Hartzler is a long time opponent of the LGBTQ community.