SALT LAKE CITY – The Mormon church says it won't stand in the way of a proposal to ban gay conversion therapy for minors in its home base of Utah, a position that advocates heralded as a milestone in the conservative state. Troy Williams with the group Equality Utah said Wednesday the stance is important because LGBT members have historically reported that church leaders encouraged them to attend therapy aimed at changing their sexual orientation. The faith has now denounced conversion therapy or other practices that subject people to abuse. Marty Stephens, a lobbyist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says counseling in line with church teachings on marriage and sexuality won't come under the proposed ban. LGBT conversation therapy has been banned in fifteen states and the District of Columbia.
Granted, the 2012 law banning conversion therapy for minors by licensed professionals also defined "sexual orientation change efforts" to include efforts to change "behaviors or gender expressions." But that law regulated only the conduct of state-licensed professionals. Now, the state would be going further, including trying to regulate nonprofessionals, possibly including those engaged in religious speech. In upholding the 2012 law against a 1st Amendment challenge, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals emphasized that the statute didn't prevent mental health providers from referring minors to unlicensed counselors "such as religious leaders."
Sometimes the best way to move on from your past is to confront it head first. Or at least that's what Garrard Conley did with his book Boy Erased. Boy Erased is a memoir about Conley's time in Love in Action, a 12-step ex-gay conversion therapy program. Conley joined the program when he was 19 years old, after he was raped in college. To protect himself, Conley's attacker outed Conley to his very religious family, including his father, who was a Baptist minister, giving Conley one very difficult choice to make: enter conversion therapy to be "cured" of becoming gay, or risk losing his family, church, and community.
David Matheson has spent a large chunk of his professional life working to "cure" people of their homosexuality. In a Facebook post dated Jan. 21, Matheson acknowledged that he's a gay man. He explained that the realization struck him about a year ago, in early 2018, right around the same time he and his now-former wife divorced. SEE ALSO: Logan Paul says he's'going gay' for a month, and it's not going over well "Toward the end of this decline [in my marriage], I also realized that being in an intimate relationship with a man was no longer something I wanted to avoid. It had become a non-negotiable need," he wrote.