The hearing had been convened at the behest of the subcommittee’s chairman, Representative Trent Franks, on the subject of “The State of Religious Liberty in the United States.” But the only liberties Mr. Staver took in his testimony were with the facts.
Particularly disturbing was Staver’s defence of so-called “reparative therapy,” a medically-baseless practice by which junk scientists attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT people—sometimes with disastrous results. Recently, several states have banned these harmful practices, particularly from being administered to children. In his testimony, Staver called these bans a form of religious discrimination.
“Homosexual activists have attempted to enact laws throughout the country that would silence mental health professionals from expressing the truth that an individual can successfully reduce or eliminated unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviours, or identity and live consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. Those efforts are nothing more than an attempt to censor any viewpoint concerning Scriptural teaching on human sexuality, and they represent one of the greatest assaults on children and families that has arisen in recent times,” Staver wrote.
In response to Staver, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow issued the following statement:
“Mr. Staver’s vitriolic and factually inaccurate rant should serve as a reminder that, even as equality makes progress around the country, there are still many, many people fighting tooth and nail to keep LGBT people as second class citizens. Mr. Staver’s testimony is more than just wrong, it’s actively harmful to LGBT people who have suffered through discrimination and medically-baseless efforts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. The new laws protect children from abusive practices, but do not silence mental health professional from expressing their view points. “
This isn’t the first time Mathew Staver has made wild, baseless and flat-out offensive claims. Earlier this year, Staver called First Lady Michelle Obama “an evil human being” and compared her to Adolf Hitler. In February, he called for President Barack Obama to be impeached for refusing to defend anti-LGBT laws.
The Human Rights Campaign continues to support efforts to call out and eliminate so-called “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy” around the country. Roundly rejected by every major medical association, these efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity are profoundly damaging to those who endure them. For a resource on the lies and dangers of these efforts, click here.