The goal was not to move the bill, but to sell an idea; a narrative of coexistence and equal protections for both LBGTQ activists and religious Arizonans. Speaker of the House, Rusty Bowers called an ad hoc hearing on his bill, HB 2802 and activists praised the compromise as a model answer for the whole country. If only it were that simple.
Four and a half hours of testimony showed just how far apart the two sides see freedom and equality. By the end of Thursday afternoon, serious weaknesses in the so-called “Equality and Fairness for all Act” had been laid bare.
HB 2802 would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Arizona laws prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation, employment, and housing, with some weak exemptions for religious freedom. It would also prohibit what activists like to call “conversion therapy.” These are the problems with HB 2802 and the testimony provided to back them up:
Alliance Defending Freedom Attorney, Greg Baylor, pointed out the fact that the bill would likely mean:
- Public schools and businesses would have to open locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to biological males identifying as females
- Medical and mental health providers would be forced to provide hormones and gender-related surgeries against their consciences
- Licensed therapists would be prohibited from counseling minor clients who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction in accordance with their religious beliefs or even their desired outcome
- And at least one portion of the bill is unconstitutional and ripe for litigation
I testified to the fact:
- The bill violates parental rights by forbidding parents to find professional counseling for their children in accordance with their beliefs
- Polling shows a large majority of Arizonans don’t agree with such restrictions
- Arizona’s economy is not suffering at all without an ideologically driven sexual orientation, gender identity (SOGI) law
- And the ban on counseling one viewpoint, while allowing another is blatantly unconstitutional.
Perhaps most compelling were personal testimonies given by men and women who had experienced the life-saving counseling of licensed therapists who didn’t lurch to affirm their struggles with same-sex attraction, but dug deep to help heal traumas from the past, and worked toward the client’s goal of living according to God’s design.
One woman’s tearful testimony of sexual abuse as a child and a long journey back from suicidal thoughts and same-sex attraction got the attention of committee members.
“If you’ve ever experienced the birth of a child and as you hold him/her you feel joy, hope, and expectancy… it is good for him/her to be in this world. That is what God gave me back through talk therapy. It was not conversion therapy. I was never forced to change, hence unwanted same-sex attractions. Finding a counselor to affirm a homosexual lifestyle was not an issue; I met several. It was finding a counselor who was willing to explore and be curious about my attraction and not push one agenda or another.”
A man also testified to the freedom he found in the therapy HB 2802 would ban:
“Over the past 5 years, I’ve been encouraged through therapy to develop healthy relationships with men who could pour into my life what it is to be a man, a father, a husband, a protector, and a provider of a safe environment for my family … To not have mentors, leaders, fathers, brothers, speaking into my life – would be death.”
Another shared how he narrowly avoided suicide:
“I’m convinced that if I had sought help, only to be told that I was gay, that was just who I was and that I needed to accept and embrace it, and any other discussion except for that was off limits, I would have lost the little bit of hope that I had left that I could have a different future. That may well have been the final nail in my emotional coffin that could have pushed me over the edge. That’s as honest as I can be about this.”
A mother shared her fear for her daughter and others being forced to share private spaces with biological men. She listed some of the many sexual assaults committed under the claims of gender identity and the tragedy of forcing such sexual ideology:
“Abigail Martinez is a tragic example. Her daughter attended “support” groups at her high school for depression and gender-confusion. At the request of a school psychologist, Child Family Services took the child from her home and allowed the girl to “transition” and take hormones, despite Abigail’s objections. Abigail begged doctors to instead conduct a psychological evaluation and treat her daughter’s mental problems. Tragically, Abigail’s daughter ended up taking her own life by kneeling in front of a train.”
CAP Policy Director, Dalton Abbitt testified as an athlete to the dangers of HB 2802 forcing club sports leagues to allow biological males to compete in girls’ sports:
“Take Tackle fouling as an example. In soccer, players sweep the legs of an opponent – physically taking the opponent down by sweeping their legs out from underneath them in order to stop a goal scoring opportunity. It is the nature of the game. A boy or man sweeping a girl or women could end up doing serious damage.”
In the end, the committee didn’t vote, the bill will likely not move forward. It was an exercise in pushing an agenda, not a bill. I think, I pray, we gave those hoping for a smooth move a lot more to think about.
SB 1211, which would ensure parents have reasonable access to instructional materials being taught to their children in public school, passed the full Senate this week.
HB 2161, which ensures parents have access to their children’s educational and medical records, as well surveys prior to being given to students, passed the Senate Education Committee this week.
SB1399, which ensures faith-based foster care and adoption agencies are not discriminated against when following their beliefs in placing children, passed the House Judiciary Committee this week.
HB 2449, which ensures patients in hospice facilities and the like get access to a clergy visit during a public emergency such as the pandemic, passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this week.
HB 2507, which would ensure churches and other religious organizations are deemed essential during a public emergency like a pandemic, passed the Senate Government Committee this week.
- Al Mohler has a thoughtful analysis of “what’s behind the moral confusion in your culture.” Read or listen here.
- Biological male, Lia Thomas won the women’s NCAA swimming championship yesterday. Watch a new video featuring the mother of one swimmer up against Thomas on Penn’s women’s swim team.
- Some states and businesses are taking steps to circumvent new pro-life laws by providing ways to get women facing unplanned pregnancies to pro-abortion states. Read here how Citi Bank is the latest.
Stay connected and consider receiving additional publications by joining the CAP Network.