In a move that further solidifies the White House’s stance on gay marriage and LGBTQ civil liberties, President Obama is calling for an end to what’s known as gay and transgender conversion therapies. This comes just a few months after a 17-year-old transgender teen, Lellah Alcorn, took her own life after writing an online suicide note, which included references to how religious therapists attempted to change her back to being a boy. In a statement posted Wednesday night on a WhiteHouse.gov petition in memory of Leelah, The White House stated, “We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth. … As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga spoke to James Guay, who went through many years of gay conversion therapy at his church.
Regarding the president’s statement, Guay says, “It’s a beautiful statement of appreciating all of our genuine ways of being. The more authentic we can be in the world, the better society we are. We need to support LGBTQ youth and adults and protect them from fraudulent and damaging practices like conversion therapy.”
And Guay does believe that religion plays a part. He said most, if not all, people who feel pressure to undergo conversion therapy do have some religious affiliation, but he says it’s important to recognize there are plenty of inviting churches and synagogues that welcome LGBTQ members.
“One of the things I’d like to convey is even Republicans are in support of banning this conversion therapy because it’s just so harmful and fraudulent and hurtful,” said Guay.
Asked how prevalent he thinks conversion therapy is in 2015, Guay said, “It’s prevalent in the sense that there is a lot of dialogue in churches that they want LGBT people to change.”
Only California and New Jersey along with the District of Columbia ban therapists from practicing conversion therapy with LGBTQ youth. But just this year, an additional 18 states have introduced legislation that would ban the controversial practice.