By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
March 30, 2019
RALEIGH – Democratic state lawmakers filed three bills this week designed to advance the cause of the LGBTQ community in the Tar Heel state.
Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equality NC, said that Thursday, was “a monumental day for LGBTQ North Carolinians.” She added that the legislation filed was a “collective effort” towards showing “the world that North Carolina truly is a beautiful place to be queer.”
The package of bills include:
HB 514 – Equality for All purports to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, education, credit, and insurance. It elevates “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a “protected status” equal with enumerations like “race, color, national origin, religion, and age.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said although legislative proposals like HB 514 claim to create protections for LGBTQ and thereby provide “equality for all,” the legislation doesn’t actually do this.
“Such measures are more about punishing those who believe that God created us male and female and that the two very different genders were created for each other,” said Creech. “HB 514 establishes in law and promotes in the culture that to act on traditional beliefs about human sexuality and marriage is a punishable form of bigotry.”
Creech said that HB 514 threatens the civil rights of people who hold to common beliefs about humanity that have been borne for centuries – mainline religious views embraced by Orthodox Jews, Catholics, conservative Evangelical Christians, Muslims, and Mormons. The legislation fails even to recognize the spirit stated in Obergfell v. Hodges, which says that these convictions are held “in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.”
“To treat ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ like the immutable characteristics of race and sex does not produce good results. It does injustice to the civil rights movement for blacks and women by hijacking them,” said Creech.
“It does injustice to civil liberties. We’ve seen this over and again where laws of this kind were enacted, and they intimidate, threaten, bully, and penalize bakers, florists, photographers, adoption agencies, schools, etc., not because these people wanted to discriminate against anybody from the LGBTQ community. Instead, they were abiding by their religious or moral convictions,” said Creech. “It is a form of tyranny for the government to force people to live and work in public or private ways which are contrary to their consciences. Moreover, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” is not based on any objective, verifiable trait, but purely subjective identities.”
HB 516 – Mental Health Protection Act would outlaw “conversion therapy,” for persons under 18 years of age and adults. Conversion therapy is a form of counseling, a psychological or psychiatric treatment that seeks to help individuals overcome same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria. It has been referred to as “reparative therapy.”
HB 516 defines conversion therapy as “Any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to (1) change behaviors and gender expressions or (2) eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same gender.”
Professionals who would be penalized or disciplined for violating this proposed law include:
- Fee-based pastoral counselors;
- Licensed clinical social workers;
- Licensed marriage and family therapists;
- Licensed professional counselors; and
- Licensed psychiatrists and psychologists.
The legislation further states:
“No state funds, nor any funds belonging to a municipality, agency, or political subdivision of this State, shall be expended for the purpose of conducting conversion therapy, referring an individual for conversion therapy, health benefits coverage for conversion therapy, or a grant or contract with any entity that conducts conversion therapy or refers individuals for conversion therapy.”
Some conversion therapy programs have harmed and resulted in giving a black eye to legitimate programs that seek to bring healing to those suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions.
But Creech says, “Whatever one thinks about the merits of conversion therapy is largely irrelevant. HB 516 represents government established orthodoxy on ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ that prohibits any dissent.”
Matthew Staver, lead attorney for Liberty Counsel, an Orlando, Florida-based Christian litigation ministry which specializes in First Amendment rights, said concerning similar legislation:
“Any current proposal seeking only to prohibit counseling that aids a minor in reducing or eliminating his or her unwanted same-sex attractions, behavior, or identity is a constitutionally impermissible view-point based restriction on speech because it allows counselors to discuss the subject of orientation, behavior, or identity, but forbids the discussion of the viewpoint that such perceived attractions, behaviors, or identity can or should be changed. The Constitution does not permit the government to infringe the fundamental rights of patients, especially in an area as fundamental as a client’s own identity. The government cannot silence a view with which it disagrees merely because it thinks the idea is incorrect or misguided. This impermissible attempt to silence counseling from one particular viewpoint regarding same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and should be rejected. The most basic of [First Amendment] principles is this…’government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Brown v. Entm’t Merchants Ass’n, 131 S. Ct. 2729, 2733 (2011) quoting Ashcroft v. ACLU, 535 U.S. 564, 573 (2002)”
Creech added, “Can you imagine the government telling scientists who reject the conclusions of climate change that they would be subject to lose their license or penalized if they promote that point of view? Just because the viewpoint rejects climate change and may not be in synch with what most scientists are saying about it, that doesn’t authorize the government to make such a viewpoint illegal to teach or practice. Can you imagine the government criminalizing the practice of acupuncture or chiropractic? Bans like the one proposed in HB 516 would set a precedent for banning any controversial medical treatment. I can’t even name all of the unintended consequences that would come with the enactment of such legislation. You think about it, even a priest with same-sex attractions couldn’t receive help from a paid professional counselor to fulfill his priestly call to chastity.”
HB 2 provided the following protections to North Carolinians:
- An explicit statewide policy about bathrooms and changing facilities;
- It blocked local governments from requiring “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” policies for those who wanted to contract business with the government;
- It blocked “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” provisions from being added to local nondiscrimination laws relating to private employment practices and the regulation of public accommodations.
HB 142 was considered a reset of HB 2 and resulted in the following:
- It supplanted HB 2;
- It preempted regulation of access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities by any State or local government, except by an act of the General Assembly;
- It prohibits a local government from enacting or amending an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations. This section of the law, however, expires December 1, 2020.
Creech said, “I have always believed HB 2 was right, and I will go to my grave holding that position. Despite the outcry from the LGBTQ community, celebrities, sports organizations, business entities, and a biased media which smeared the measure, I still believe HB 2 was the right thing to do. No one with any common sense believes a man belongs in a woman’s bathroom, shower, or changing facility. No one with any understanding of the most basic principles of nature would argue that gender is fluid or interchangeable. No one with any understanding of the First Amendment, or our nation’s Christian heritage, would contend people who believe in traditional marriage or traditional gender roles ought to be punished by the government for living out their moral convictions. But these are the contentions of the lawmakers who support the passage of this HB 515. It boggles the mind. And it’s dangerous!”
Creech added that when such measures are put forward, Christians shouldn’t sleep believing that because Trump is in office or Republicans are the majority in the state legislature everything will be fine. “When it comes to public-policy issues, you can never take anything for granted,” he said. “Murphy’s Law is always in play. If there is a chance something will go wrong, it probably will. Christians should be praying and contacting their state lawmakers in objection to these bills.”