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The “REAL” story behind the so-called Ban on Conversion Therapy Bill

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Oct 1, 2020 No Comments ›› admin

All elected officials have a supreme obligation to always remember their proper role – that they have been selected by their neighbors not to be their manager or supervisor, but instead to simply represent them and their interests when debating and voting on policy.  That also means all their neighbors, not just those that they agree with, and not just those in the majority.  Our system of government is designed to protect individual rights, not group rights.

Secondly, elected officials have an obligation to be transparent and explain their positions, their records, and their votes to their constituents.

I take great pride that I have been the person most willing to live up to these standards that I have encountered in politics.

That is why it is unbelievably frustrating to have my record mischaracterized, and worse – to have political opponents claim that I am unwilling to discuss my votes.   Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sadly, there are members of the Southington Democratic party, because they have little to offer in the way of good public policy, who have taken to purposely distorting my record and attempting to deceive the public about my positions and my votes.

Up until now, I gave them the benefit of the doubt believing they were just misinformed and not purposely trying to mislead people about my record.  However, I am increasingly convinced that they will say absolutely anything to anyone for political purposes, with zero respect for the truth, common decency, or any sense of what is right and just.

An almost daily misleading narrative concerns a law passed in 2017 entitled An Act Concerning the Protection of Youth from Conversion Therapy.  The claim is that somehow, I am in favor of “electro-shocking gay kids.”

Few people even know what Conversion Therapy is.  Even fewer understand what this law says.

To start with, the claim that anyone would be in favor of any type of torture stretches credibility beyond the breaking point.  That does not even make sense.  Anyone making such a claim should examine themselves for implicit bias.

All of that said, I want to address those who are genuinely concerned about this issue and want to understand this law, how it came to be, and the objective truth about my position, and how this fits into our political landscape.

If you are someone starting from a point of mistrust or anger at me or the others who voted against this bill, please know that I completely and fully understand your distrust and skepticism.  I also sincerely appreciate your willingness to read my comments and let me explain my position to you.

I am taking the time not because I want your vote. I am taking the time simply because I respect you as a person and a constituent and believe there is great value in sharing our views with one another.  

Of course, none of us are perfect. We all fall short in some way or another. However, my duty as a State Senator is twofold – to represent my constituents and to uphold my oath office by defending the state and U.S. constitutions.

In the weeks prior to the bill coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives, I was told that we would be voting on a bill that banned conversion therapy – defined by the proponents as “torture” and even “electric shock therapy!”  At that time, if I was asked, I would have told anyone that I most certainly would have voted in favor of banning such horrific acts, though I was (and am) confident that these things were most definitely already illegal.

The first opportunity I was given to even read the language of the bill was when it finally came up for a vote in the House of Representatives.  In truth, I only was given a handful of minutes to understand it and was still digesting when the debate began.  What I noticed immediately is that it contained no mention of torture, or electric shock therapy or anything even close.  It made me wonder what was happening.

Here is a link to the bill as it came to us for a vote. Please take the time to read along with me. 

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/FC/pdf/2017HB-06695-R000719-FC.pdf

Note lines 3 through 8 which read:  “Conversion therapy” means any practice or treatment administered to a person under eighteen years of age that seeks to change the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, any effort to change gender expression or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward persons of the same gender.”

I can understand how many people might still agree with banning such an activity using that definition. However, if we are thinking this through and being honest, this is a much broader definition than banning “torture” and even broader than banning forced therapy sessions – which I might have a harder time voting to ban but still would have.

Unfortunately, this broad definition creates a whole host of unintended consequences, not the least of which is restricting a parent from interfering in a same-sex relationship even if the reason they want to do so has nothing at all to do with that issue.   As an example, if a parent wants their child not to be involved in a relationship with another same-sex person but for an entirely different reason, maybe they are into drugs or crime, this bill would prohibit the parent interfering in any way.

So as I am sitting in the House chamber trying to get my head around these changes and what to do about them, the next thing I know is that the proponent of the bill introduces an amendment to change the language of the bill.

The new amendment says:

“Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) It shall be unlawful for any person who practices or administers conversion therapy to practice or administer such therapy while in the conduct of trade or commerce.”

This amendment would now make the above behavior banned ONLY if money is exchanged.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/amd/H/pdf/2017HB-06695-R00HA-AMD.pdf

I must admit that even after seven years of serving in the legislature, I was shocked. I could not understand why the people proposing this bill would want to change it, so it only applies when money is involved. That would mean that essentially, they believe this behavior should not be banned if someone is performing these acts for free.

Does that make any sense?  Let me stop here and ask you how you would have voted on this amendment?

You would have voted no right?  Me too.  It seems implausible and ridiculously inconsistent to say something is so horrible it must be banned – and then to immediately turn around and say it is okay in some cases and not others.

And so, I voted no on the amendment.

Before going on, please take a moment to look at that roll call vote tally and see how each representative voted, who was in favor of excusing conversion therapy as long as it was being done for free –

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/VOTE/h/2017HV-00081-R00HB06695-HV.htm

Please also keep in mind that if the amendment was defeated, then the bill would still have banned the above behavior in all cases.

Unfortunately, the amendment did indeed pass despite my no vote.

The discussion on the floor continued.  Because of my questions, it was clarified for the record that the intent of the amendment was indeed to weaken the bill.

I was later told it was for the purpose of getting more votes in favor since the only objections to the bill were coming from religious institutions who would not charge for services and therefore would not be affected.

This is a good question to ask the Democrats who are the so-called champions of LGBTQ rights in the legislature.  Why would they vote to make this only apply in cases where money changes hands – and not in all cases?

So, after the amendment passed, it became part of the bill and this was now the updated language –

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/FC/pdf/2017HB-06695-R000719-FC.pdf.

Note lines 51-53 containing the caveat about “commerce.”

I encourage you to take a moment to watch my short speech on the House floor as all this was going on.  It will make clear my concerns and my intentions and why the bill was unworthy of a yes vote.

And here is the final roll call vote.

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/VOTE/h/2017HV-00082-R00HB06695-HV.htm

and the passage of the bill into law –

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/ACT/pa/pdf/2017PA-00005-R00HB-06695-PA.pdf

In closing, the language in the final bill is poorly done.  The bill does not do what those attacking my record say it does.

Ultimately, I voted no because the definition was far too broad and interfered with the rights of others, parents in much more innocent situations, and because the amendment basically gutted any value the bill had.

Even more importantly, what I want to convey to you is that this bill was never about preventing the “torture of gay kids” or the LGBTQ community.  It was about politics. The bill language accomplishes almost nothing of value.  Its purpose was simply to allow Democrats to pass a law implying they support the LGBTQ community – whether the actual policy was good or not. – And also, to vilify those of us would dare to vote against a bill designed for virtue signaling and not making good law.

This bill and others like it are not about making good policy to protect the LGBTQ community or anyone else.  Rather they are about dividing us all into categories and attempting to convince you that Republicans are the enemy of LGBTQ rights.

I am here to tell you that I am not your enemy if you are LGBTQ.  I am someone who would risk my life to defend your freedom to live your life any way you choose.  

I believe very strongly that every person should be able to live their life with maximum freedom.  That is why I am a proud Republican.  We are the party of individual liberty and I proudly stand against racism, bigotry, or putting people into groups for the purpose of exploiting them or pitting people against one another.

I stand by my vote.  My vote is the one that protects parental rights and freedoms for the LGBTQ community.

FACT – The Democrats and those that voted in favor of the bill expanded the possibility of conversion therapy in CT as long as it is done for free.  Contrary to the talking points by the CT Dems, they are the ones who made the bad anti-LGBTQ vote – not me.