Men and women who once identified as LGBT shared their personal stories of transformation with lawmakers Wednesday after the House passed a bill earlier this year that would bar citizens from accessing counseling and therapies for unwanted same-sex attraction.
Dressed in black T-shirts emblazoned with the word “CHANGED,” 16 formerly LGBT-identified persons from Church United and the CHANGED movement spoke at a joint news conference outside the U.S. capitol where they shared their stories with members of Congress and their staff, and urged senators not to support the so-called Equality Act if it’s ever brought to the floor for a vote.
“There are bills behind us that are going to take away our rights,” said Jim Domen from Church United.
Domen said he has dealt with same-sex attraction since the seventh grade and even identified as a gay man for five years, but today he’s married to a woman and has three children. He described his years in his former life as a search for love where he was so desperate that he did not care if his sexual partners had hepatitis or were HIV-positive.
“My two daughters and son don’t think I’m a fraud, they know that I’m real,” he said. “We exist. We are people who have changed.”
He and others stressed the importance that they should have the right to pursue counseling options in accordance with their faith, therapies that would be restricted under H.R. 5, the Equality Act — an updated version of the 1964 landmark civil rights legislation considered by many to be Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy — which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year. The bill is being pushed by LGBT activist organizations.
Domen emphasized: “I want to very clear about something, all of us here, we love, we absolutely love the LGBTQ community. We understand you. We know what it’s like. We’ve lived there, we’ve walked it. We’ve been from gay bars and back. We know the journey. We know the pain.”
As currently proposed, the Equality Act explicitly nullifies protections set forth in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Senate version of the Equality Act, S.788, which was introduced in March to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is not presently being considered for a committee vote — Republicans hold the majority — and will not make it to the floor for a vote.
The Trump administration said in May that the Equality Act is “filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
Among those who spoke Wednesday was KathyGrace Duncan, who formerly identified as transgender — whose story of coming to faith and detransitioning was featured in The Christian Post’s 2017 series on transgenderism — and Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon, both whom survived the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016 that was committed by an ISIS sympathizer. Colon was shot several times and Ruiz was trampled as he fled the scene. Today the two men lead a ministry called Fearless Identity.