Featured Image

LOS ANGELES, October 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, a Catholic and presidential candidate for the Democratic party, called for churches and religious institutions to lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex “marriage.”

Joining other Democratic candidates in defending their respective LGBTQ platform stances on Thursday evening during a CNN televised town hall, O’Rourke said, “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone … that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.” As the audience cheered, O’Rourke continued, saying, “And so as president, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

At the CNN LGBTQ Equality town hall, co-sponsored by the pro-LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign, O’Rourke also said that efforts to help people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions, dubbed as “conversion therapy” by critics, “should be illegal” because it is “tantamount to torture” of children. “We will ensure that there are penalties stiff enough, enforcement vigorous enough to make sure it does not continue,” he added.

O’Rourke took a step further in the direction of stripping churches and charities if they oppose same-sex “marriage” than Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). When asked what he would do as president, Booker said there would be “consequences” for churches and religious institutions, stopping short of ending tax-exemptions. He did not say outright whether they would lose their exemption status.

When asked whether “religious education institutions should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose LGBTQ rights,” the senator replied: “We must stand up as a nation to stay that religion cannot be an excuse to deny people health insurance, education, or more,” apparently broadening the issue to include private employers. ­­­“You cannot discriminate, he said, “….I’m going to make sure that I hold them accountable.”

Conservative Republican and former business executive Herman Cain tweeted on Friday, “Does your church preach the Gospel? Then Beto O’Rourke wants to take away it’s tax-exemption.”

Partial transcript of O’Rourke’s exchange with CNN moderator Don Lemon:

LEMON: Let's talk about something that also doesn't get enough coverage, and it's controversial, and I'm talking about conversion therapy, which is a widely discredited practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or possibly their gender identity.


LEMON: Should this be illegal? And if it is illegal, what should the punishment be?

O'ROURKE: It should be illegal. As president we will seek to outlaw it everywhere in this country.


In my opinion, this is tantamount to torture, a torture that we're visiting on children who are absolutely defenseless.


And so we're going to make sure that whatever the penalty is, it is steep enough to dissuade anybody from entering into this practice or being able to torture kids with the kind of impunity that we have seen so far.

And we're also going to recognize that these kind of practices, in addition to the immediate torture that that child or that person feels, also adds to other challenges that we have. When we look at homeless youth in America, 40 percent identify as LGBTQ in America right now. When we look at those who age out of the foster care system right now, some of them subject to these conversion therapy practices, their outcomes in life are not what they should be in part because of the practices that we've allowed so far.

So, yes, we will outlaw it, and, yes, we will ensure that there are penalties stiff enough, enforcement vigorous enough to make sure that it does not continue.

LEMON: Let me ask you this. At the center of all — many of these issues, most of these issues is religion. So, you know, when you say you're going to do laws, you're going to — how do you change people's minds about religion? Because that's what's really telling people, preaching to young people that they're wrong, that what they are is an abomination, that they're not supposed to be the way that God created them. So how do you deal with that?

O'ROURKE: What does that do to your head and your conception of yourself and what you think is possible for you in your life when someone has labeled you as defective or less than? Not only is that terrible for you, it is terrible for all of us in this country and the potential that we are losing out on right now.

I remember in the El Paso City Council — this was more than 10 years ago — we wrote an ordinance, passed it, that offered health care benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees, very controversial idea at the time.

And your question about religion, I was born and raised a Catholic, and there was a Catholic priest at the lectern during the call to the public telling me that what I was doing was welcoming an abomination to God. And he and I really got into it at that podium, a very politically unpopular position for us to take in the council. It sparked recall elections and citizen-driven petitions.

But I knew it was the right thing to do, not just for those city employees, but for any child who is reading the newspaper, watching TV, or who wanted to know what those in positions of power and public trust thought about them.

And what we were saying from the El Paso City Council is you're every bit as important, every bit as valuable, every bit as much an American and a human being as anyone else and we're going to treat you the same as everybody else. So defying the religious condemnation that I received from a Catholic priest, as a lifelong Catholic, defying the polls and the politics of the moment, and just doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Allow the politics to catch up. That's my philosophy.