Conversion Therapist Sues NYC Over Therapy Ban

New York City is being sued by an anti-LGBT hate group after the decision to ban conversion therapy for minors at a statewide level, according to Pink News.

In 2017, the New York City Council passed legislation that outlawed conversion therapy for minors and then last month the Council created a statewide ban 

Dr. David Schwartz, a therapist based in Brooklyn, spearheaded the legal battle with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF. The Alliance has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Center. Schwartz is against this ban as he claims that it is a direct violation of his religious freedom and his freedom of speech.

The ADF agrees with Schwartz, as they say "Dr. Schwartz has a right to use his professional skills to assist patients to live in accordance with their shared religious faith, including the religious mandates of the Torah."

The ADF is known for filing lawsuits against anti-discrimination laws. Their most noticeable instant in which they fought against anti-discrimination is when the group defended Jack Phillips, the anti-gay banker in the Mastepiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case. It is not surprising given their bigoted history that they would fight to get conversion therapy written back into law.

Living so close to New York, I can assume that, given my knowledge of what direction NY swings politically, the state will not reinstate conversion therapy for minors. However, the Supreme Court did side with Jack Phillips so it's really anybody's guess how this lawsuit will settle.

h/t: Pink News

D.C. Soon To Be First Territory To Ban Conversion Therapy On Adults.

Several states have taken steps to protect minors against conversion therapy.  But what happens with conversion therapy practices once a person becomes 18?  Well, you're an adult right? And you will have choices of your own to make about your own life.  But what if you are still under the guardianship of another at and after the age of 18?  What if someone else has the legal right and responsibility to make choices for you?

On January 16th, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill calling for banning licensed mental health practitioners from conducting conversion therapy on adults who are under the care of a conservator or guardian. The bill was approved unanimously by the City Council last month. The Conversion Therapy for Consumers Under a Conservatorship or Guardianship Amendment Act of 2018, would be the first of its type in the country, pushing conversion therapy protections to include and go beyond 18 years of age.

Some news sites are saying that the bill is now law, but the WashingtonBlade.com in their Bowser signs conversion therapy ban for adults with disabilities is saying that:

Following the mayor’s signature the bill was to be sent to Capitol Hill where under the city’s Home Rule Charter it must undergo a 30 legislative day review by Congress. If Congress takes no action the bill become law.

Let's cross our fingers that Congress does what they do best, no action, and D.C. can get its desired law. 

Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT youth told the WashingtonBlade.com that“Nobody should be subjected to the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.”

Washington D.C. is moving in the right direction when it comes to LGBT protection and equality. In our post DC Group Ratifies Three Pro-LGBTQ Measures, we mentioned the conversion therapy ban above as well as the DC Council voted twelve to zero to confirm DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's nominee, gay activist Peter Rosenstein to the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals and passed "Sense of the Council" which will provide support for transgender people.

There are a total of 15 states have done the right thing and banned conversion therapy. 

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, And Washington.

There are 14 states that have proposals for similar conversion ban laws to be considered.

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

New York City is the only other place in the United States that bans conversion therapy for adults, but NYC bans it for all adults, not just those with guardians. The NYC Law simply states:

This bill would prohibit any person from charging consumers for services intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

h/t: WashingtonBlade.com , gaytimes.co.uk

NY State (Finally!) Bans Conversion Therapy For Minors & Transgender Discrimination

Thanks to new Democratic control of the New York state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was finally able to sign two important LGBT bills into law today.

With an American flag, a New York state flag, a rainbow flag and a transgender flag displayed prominently, the governor signed his name at a ceremony held at the New York City LGBT Community Center.


One, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, adds gender identity to the New York Human Rights Law to which bans discrimination in employment, housing, public spaces and education.

GENDA took a 16 year journey to receiving a New York state governor’s signature. While it was passed 11 times in the state Assembly, the Republican-controlled Senate kept the important legislation out of reach.

New York is now the 20th state in the country with statewide protections banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The second piece of legislation bans the use of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on LGBTQ youth.

Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all denounced ‘conversion therapy’ which treats being gay as a mental illness.

Also known as ‘ex-gay therapy,’  the practice has been shown to lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, anxiety and, in some cases, suicidal behavior.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, issued a statement which read:

“Today, with Governor Cuomo’s signature, New York has made bold, historic progress by making GENDA the law of the land and banning the abusive and life-threatening practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on LGBTQ youth.

“These laws will literally save lives, and their passage would not have been possible without the tireless work of advocates and allies across New York over the last decade. We also owe today’s celebration in large part to Senator Hoylman and Assemblymembers Gottfried and Glick for their strong leadership on this legislation, and to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who made them a top priority this session.”

New York is now the 15th state to prohibit the harmful practice on LGBTQ youth. 

Other states that have enacted similar laws are Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, as well as the District of Columbia.

It’s a great day to celebrate in New York state.

Check out video from the event today in New York City below.



(h/t HRC, Governor.NY.gov)

Everyone's Favorite Hate Group is Suing Again

Not surprisingly, the Liberty Counsel is up in arms about another state doing the right thing and banning conversion therapy. This time, the Counsel is targeting Maryland, a state that recently banned the fraudulent practice known as conversion therapy, according to LGBTQ Nation.

The anti-LGBTQ organization is seeking a federal injunction against an anti-conversion therapy law that was recently passed in Maryland. Christopher Doyle, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay" therapist is being represented by the Liberty Counsel. Doyle has threatened to file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission against LGBTQ organizations because he feels that they are falsely advertising that homosexuality cannot be cured.

Conversion therapy is roughly defined as a treatment by a licensed professional that seeks to change one's behavior and sexual orientation. However, no credible evidence has been presented to show that this type of therapy actually works and, in fact, does more harm than good.

The Counsel is making the case by referencing a precedent set in the anti-abortion case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra in which the Supreme Court found that requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose state services was unconstitutional. Basically, this means such centers cannot be forced to share information that they disagree with. Using this precedent, the Liberty Counsel is trying to push the narrative that conversion therapy would be “voluntary counseling from licensed professionals,” despite the fact that most of the time this practice is forced upon children by homophobic parents.

There is no shortage of instances in which the Liberty Counsel is blatantly bigoted, so I'm not surprised that they are defending conversion therapy. The Supreme Court leans right at the moment and probably will continue to do so for awhile, but hopefully they won't take the Liberty Counsel seriously and will not reversethe decision to ban conversion therapy in Maryland.

h/t: LGBTQ Nation.

Leader In 'Ex-Gay' Movement Now Seeking To Date Men

My grandmother used to say all the time, "Ye who protesteth the loudest, do it the mostesth!"

That echoes in my mind as I report that a prominent therapist in the so-called conversion therapy industry has announced he has left the ‘ex-gay’ movement and is actively looking to date men.

Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit think tank and advocacy group that fights against anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination, obtained screen captures of a private Facebook group that shared the news David Matheson, who penned the controversial ‘ex-gay’ book, Becoming a Whole Man, is now living his life as an openly gay man.

During his career as a therapist, Matheson has authored several ‘ex-gay therapy’ programs including the notorious Journey Into Manhood program.

Rich Wyler, Journey Into Manhood’s director, broke the news in the Facebook group writing, “David…says that living a single, celibate life ‘just isn’t feasible' for him, so he’s seeking a male partner.”

Wyler added, “He has gone from bisexuality to exclusively gay.”

TWO reached out to Matheson and received a statement which was appallingly absent any regret for his actions in the past. He also shares he plans to remain in the Mormon Church.

“My time in a straight marriage and in the ‘ex-gay’ world was genuine and sincere and a rich blessing to me,” Matheson said in text messages to TWO. “I remember most of it with fondness and gratitude for the joy and growth it caused in me and many others. But I had stopped growing and was starting to die. So I’ve embarked on a new life-giving path that has already started a whole new growth process.

“I wasn’t faking it all those years,” he added. “I’m not renouncing my past work or my LDS faith. And I’m not condemning mixed-orientation marriages.” 

“I continue to support the rights of individuals to choose how they will respond to their sexual attractions and identity,” he wrote in closing. “With that freedom, I am now choosing to pursue life as a gay man.”

At least one former client of Journey Into Manhood rejected the announcement.

“While I am pleased for Mr. Matheson that he has found a path forward for his life, I can’t help but think of the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still stuck in the closet, a closet that was created in part by Mr Matheson himself,” said Chaim Levin, who claims he was psychologically harmed by the program Matheson helped design for Journey Into Manhood. “I hope that Mr. Matheson will do whatever he can to rectify the harm that he’s inflicted on many people in the LGBTQ community, myself included.”

A 2007 New York Times article revealed Matheson had earned a master’s in counseling and guidance from Brigham Young University. He began full-time practice in New Jersey in 2004, where he charged clients $240 per 90-minute session.

Matheson helped develop the ‘program’ for Journey into Manhood, which took gay men go into the forest where they were encouraged to engage in “manly” activities in an effort to change their sexual orientation. 

“For some people ‘gay’ is never going to work,” he told ABC’s Nightline in 2010 while discussing Journey Into Manhood. “That kind of life, and that kind of living, is never going to gel — ever — with their value system.”

“For those men, that’s why we exist, so that they can have another way, another approach of dealing with their sexual feelings,” Matheson added.

Since the publication of TWO's report, Matheson has posted a lengthy coming-out essay on his Facebook page, which reads in part:


Not that I would excuse myself, but any shortcomings I had as a therapist came from too narrow a view of what “emotionally healthy” can look like. They came from my own homophobia and narrow mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. And I’m sorry for the confusion and pain my choice may be causing others.

Even today, as a newly-out gay man, I still find too much homophobia in myself.


(h/t Truth Wins Out - image via HUME Clinic)

New York Lawmakers Pass Major Pro-LGBTQ Bills

After years and years of attempting to protect transgender New Yorkers, the New York state legislature has finally passed GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

The legislation explicitly bans discrimination in the state based on gender expression and gender identity. The bill won passage with a vote of 100-40 in the Assembly and 42-19 in the Senate.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people will now be protected in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. 

While New York State has had laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2002, trans people across the state have fought for 17 years for clear protections under state law.

“This is truly an historic day,” Eric Lesh, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, told The Daily Beast. “We are finally welcoming a fairer and more equal New York because of the bold and tireless leadership of trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, GENDA passed in the state Assembly 11 times over the years, but the GOP-controlled Senate would kill the bill. Only now that Democrats control the Senate has the legislation finally passed and will head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.



Additionally, a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ passed in both chambers, making New York the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice.

The legislation passed in the state Assembly 134 to 3, and in the state Senate by a vote of 57-4.

“Today’s historic action in New York is the result of years of hard work and it is a vivid illustration of the importance of electing pro-equality lawmakers,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.

“Due to the efforts of countless advocates and leaders, transgender New Yorkers will now be explicitly protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and LGBTQ youth will be protected from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,' added Griffin. "This is a monumental day for fairness and equality across the Empire State.”

Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all denounced ‘conversion therapy’ which treats being gay as a mental illness.

So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety and, in some cases, suicide.

(h/t HRC, The Daily Beast)

Denver's City Council Voted To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors

The city of Denver is doing right by its LGBTQ citizens.

The Denver City Council has unanimously passed a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors, according to KKTV’s 11 News.

“This proposal is aimed at state-licensed therapists, operating their practice in the city, who are falsely claiming that being gay or transgender is a mental illness, and therefore taking advantage of parents and harming vulnerable youth,” said the city in a statement on Monday.

“This is a very proud moment for my administration, for members of City Council, and for everyone in Denver who values inclusion and acceptance,” Mayor Michael Hancock added.

Hancock was a big advocate for getting the practice banned, and orchestrated this city council vote.

As Hancock expressed before the vote:

“When my brother came out to our family all those years ago, we knew that our love and support was what he needed. All our LGBTQ+ youth here in Denver deserve the same, and they should be proud of who they are. We celebrate who they are, and they should feel welcome and that our city is open to them. Their safety, wellbeing and happiness are our highest priority with this proposal.”

That said, gay conversion therapy is only banned in the city of Denver. Anyone in another Colorado town/city is not so safe.

In addition, Colorado’s lawmakers have made four proposals to ban conversion therapy statewide, and all four proposals have failed so far.

h/t: KKTV 11 News, The Governing

The Best Christmas Present Is A Happy You. We All Do Different Things To Get To That Happy Self.

I'm not a big fan of the traditional self-evaluation at the New Year and setting up resolutions to make a better life for the next Gregorian calendar, but I myself like to do a life-evaluation at Christmas.

As I sit here vacationing in the Pacific Northwest with one of my best friends, enjoying one of my favorite cities, Seattle, and looking forward to experiencing Victoria Island and Vancouver in the next two weeks, I'm enjoying life, have two great jobs that provide different opportunities for me, and will soon buy my first home.  I always think, if you can't be happy at Christmas, when can you be happy. 

But yes, Christmas is more than just about you, yourself, being the only happy one around. As mentioned, there is self-evaluation and life-evaluation. One reason I came out to Seattle was not only to have a great time, but as well to make sure my good friend had a great time.  He's on a long trip and taking some time to regroup and enjoy life himself and looking into the future and to see what he wants to do moving forward after a major life event. As we sit having bagels and mimosas by the fireplace, yes, we are enjoying it all, but we also are reflecting on where we've been and thinking about where we are going.  One thing that made us smile was something that happened to both of us, just yesterday.

My friend and I were standing at Three Girls Bakery near Pike Place Market, trying to decide which loaf of bread we would get to compliment our homemade Christmas dinner.  A woman walked up and said, "I always get the fig (i forget the full name) bread.  We come from Hawaii to Seattle and every time we come, I have to get myself to Three Girls Bakery and get this bread."  I think we both liked the idea of someone else deciding for us, since we were all over the place.  We took her choice and went back in line, about three people behind her and her husband and waited to order the bread that was housed behind the counter.  I heard her order three loaves of that fig something something bread as well as a couple of other loaves and was trying to remember if there were more than three in the display case.  I turned to my friend and said, what do we do if she just told us what bread to buy and then she bought it all? They bagged up her bread in three different bags and they left the counter window. She approached us and said Merry Christmas and handed us a bag containing the loaf of bread she recommended, which was the most expensive kind of bread they sold. We were both taken back by her simple generosity and was reminded of being kind to strangers, small acts of kindness, and just love thy neighbor.  Yeah, the mushy gooey corny stuff, and we felt great.  Of course, that small act of kindness stuck with us and reminded us that little things like that, paying it forward, being kind, sharing a little bit of yourself, can brighten someone's day.

One of the biggest presents you can open at Christmas time is yourself.  Open yourself to others, may it be through presents, gifts, acts of kindness, or just simple words. I stumbled upon a post by one of Instinct Magazine's friends, Matthew. He shared with ImFromDriftwood his story of leaving a cult that was not accepting of his life, of who he was and is. 



Imagine making that choice to remove yourself from not only that environment but your family. I know that many of us have had to make that choice to leave the blood family and make a chosen family and are better off for it.

We need to look back and embrace those hard tough choices that helped make us who we are. Matthew shared on his Facebook - 

This was a hard story to tell - but I hope it can bring courage and hope to someone else in a similar situation.

Thank you Matthew for sharing your story.  We know it was tough to share, but we are also sure, every time you do share the story, it reaffirms that your choice was the right thing. 

So as you sit on your sofa, couch, sandy beach this Christmas, jungle canopy hammock, take some time to look back on some of those tough choices, the blessings you have, your family or your chosen family, and what you have.

Merry Christmas everyone.  Embrace who you are. You're the best present to yourself and those around you. 

Petition Persuades Apple To Dump Homophobic 'Conversion Therapy' App

An app promoting so-called “conversion therapy” has been removed from Apple’s App Store one day after LGBTQ advocacy group Truth Wins Out (TWO) launched a campaign in protest.

Non-profit Christian organization Living Hope Ministries had developed and promoted the free app for over three years, according to The Dallas Morning News.

But once the folks at TWO, which fights the ‘ex-gay’ myth, discovered the app, it was time for action.

A Change.org petition was launched asking Apple to remove the app from its store citing the many organizations (American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association to name a few) that oppose the practice as multiple studies show it can lead to anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior, including suicide.

In their petition, TWO asked, “Why would Apple allow its online store to be used as a platform to promote such dangerous, homophobic garbage?”

The app was dropped from Apple’s App Store the next day.

Apparently, the deletion occurred without notifying Living Hope Ministries. 

When The Dallas Morning News inquired about the deletion,  Executive Director Ricky Chelette said the organization plans to appeal the decision, adding, “I don’t know why they would have taken it down.”

On their website, Living Hope Ministries says its mission is “to proclaim God’s truth as we journey with those seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”

TWO executive director Wayne Besen thanked Apple in an official statement for “exemplifying corporate responsibility and taking swift action to remove a dangerous app that stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people.”

“Ex-gay programs are consumer fraud and cause significant harm to the people they purport to help,” he added.

The app is still available, though, on other digital platforms like Google and Amazon, and Besen is addressing those tech giants as well.

"Every minute this heinous product is available on these platforms, the potential exists for it to harm LGBT youth," says Besen. "We demand that Google and Amazon immediately stop selling and promoting this app, which dehumanizes LGBT people."

While Texas allows the harmful practice, conversion therapy has been banned for use on young people in 14 states as well as the District of Columbia.

(h/t Dallas Morning News)

Florida Senator Attempts to Ban Conversion Therapy

Jose Javier Rodriguez, a state senator from Miami has filed legislation for 2019 that would prohibit licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy minors, according to Florida Phoenix

Rodriguez, along with Democratic Representative Evan Jenne filed a similar bill last year but it did not get the necessary amount of legislative votes. Broward and Palm Beach counties have banned conversion therapy on the local level, but a statewide ban has yet to come to fruition.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, are all states, along with DC, that have banned conversion therapy on a statewide level. If Rodriguez manages to get this legislation passed, Florida will join the fourteen states in advancing LGBTQ rights. 

Liberty Counsel, a conservative group based in Orlando, is suing to overturn Tampa's ban on conversion therapy, claiming that banning the practice is a violation of people's first amendments privileges. In the past, the group filed lawsuits against Broward and Palm Beach counties for banning conversion therapy. 

Luckily, the majority of Floridians believe that conversion therapy for minors should be made illegal, according to a Gravis Marketing poll. Because of this, I remain hopeful that Florida's legislation will do the right thing and ban the abhorrent practice. 

h/t: Florida PhoenixGravis Marketing