PHOENIX (LifeSiteNews) — The Republican speaker of the Arizona House has joined Democrats in supporting an LGBT “discrimination” bill that, among other controversial provisions, would forbid licensed health practitioners from helping patients overcome unwanted same-sex attraction.
The Associated Press reports that the legislation would prohibit anti-LGBT “discrimination” in workplaces, housing, and places of public accommodation, with exceptions for churches but not religious business owners, leaving the likes of photographers, florists, and bakers vulnerable to the possibility of being forced to participate in same-sex “weddings”; or employers being forced to accommodate cross-dressing and sex-change treatments regardless of their own values or policies.
The legislation would also bar licensed health care professionals from practicing so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy on individuals struggling with homosexuality. Opponents of such therapy commonly elicit opposition to the practice by invoking fringe, abusive practices such as electric shock and other forms of physically-harmful junk science. But in reality, modern reparative treatment consists largely of simple counseling, the effectiveness of which is backed by studies as well as testimony from those who have benefited.
Nevertheless, the bill has the support of GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers, as well as the Episcopal and Mormon churches, which were reportedly satisfied by the bill’s exemptions for religious institutions.
While Episcopal Diocese of Arizona bishop Jennifer Reddall claimed the measure simply “means that every Arizonan can be viewed just for who they are, for who God made them in the image of God,” Center for Arizona Policy president Cathi Herrod said the “very divisive and very controversial” bill “would treat reasonable disagreement as if it were discrimination, dictate a coercive sexual ethic and penalize those who dissent.”
It remains to be seen how the bill will fare in the state legislature; Bowers said he would not commit to bringing it up for a vote unless it wins the backing of a majority of GOP House members.
In 2020, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that bans on conversion therapy violate the right of therapists “to speak freely with clients,” as guaranteed by the First Amendment.