One Colorado, the state’s leading LGBT advocacy group, is circulating the video you can see above highlighting the, um, the lowlights from the recent debate in the Colorado House over House Bill 16-1210–legislation that would ban the widely-discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” by licensed mental health professionals seeking to “cure” LGBT Coloradans of, you know, their gayness.
News reporting on the passage of this bill in the Democratic-controlled House did take note of the comments from some Republican lawmakers during this debate, in particular Reps. Kathleen Conti and Tim Leonard–comments that appeared to directly compare “curing” LGBT Coloradans to seeking treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction. Those reports frankly don’t do the comments you can hear in the video above justice. These comments and questions betray a fundamental prejudice against LGBT people held by at least some Colorado Republican lawmakers.
We’ll note just a small portion of Rep. Leonard’s remarks in particular from 1:30 into the video:
LEONARD: Representative Conti um, had a question that was similar, which was if someone came to you saying you know, I have a, all my friends are involved in drugs and alcohol, and you know, I think I’ve got to get out of this, I don’t think it’s going anywhere, would you ever be prevented to, saying, I can’t counsel you out of that lifestyle, but I can tell you you’re not fat or you’re not this or that’s now your value versus theirs…
Obviously, the comparison Rep. Leonard is making here is unambiguous. But we were forwarded the response Leonard sent to one of the witnesses in committee testimony on the bill when challenged about these remarks:
Your’s, and other’s, claims that there was a comparison made between homosexual attraction and drug/alcohol addiction were mistaken. None were made. Any questions directed at the child psychologists testifying were directed at other reasons that a child might be seeking therapy from that counselor. No connection was made between the two issues — it was for questions seeking answers for other issues the therapist might counsel children.
This is no different than asking an auto mechanic testifying on his changing oil with other services he might see other customers, like changing tires or replacing anti-freeze. It would be inaccurate to state that the questions were comparing oil to anti-freeze…I cannot speak for Rep. Conti, but my questions were directed into gathering information on how the psychologist would counsel children on other issues.
Rep. Leonard doesn’t like being called out for this highly offensive comparison, but it is what it is…and it is nothing like replacing anti-freeze.
As the nation has rapidly shifted from institutional discrimination against LGBT Americans to acknowledgement of their rights to live in peace and function in society, there is a segment of our political culture that has been left behind. We would be remiss not to remind you that forward-thinking Republicans here in Colorado and elsewhere have tried to put daylight between themselves and the bigoted holdouts–who crush Republican dreams of reaching out to the next generation of voters.
Which, at least here in Colorado, they just did again.