Logic takes a backseat during debate over conversion therapy

April 28, 2022 10:28 am
Gay pride flag

Unfortunately, there are occasions when logic appears in short supply at the Louisiana State Capitol, but Wednesday provided a glaring example that should do more than just make your eyes roll. It came during a meeting of the House Health and Welfare Committee where Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, was presenting a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors. 

If you’re not familiar with it, conversion therapy is an insidious form of quackery that purports to change someone’s sexual orientation from gay or bisexual to heterosexual. Just about every respectable medical organization that exists has come out strongly against the practice. They’ve found that not only is it ineffective, it’s also likely to be harmful for members of a marginalized community that already experiences high rates of suicide.

Landry’s House Bill 605, which failed in committee on a 6-6 vote, would prevent certain medical professionals from administering conversion therapy, which includes unproven methods such as electroshock therapy or exposing patients to pornography. Some of the lawmakers who opposed the bill asked Landry to define specific practices she wants to prohibit. She’s expected to do so and bring the bill back for another vote.

Opponents who testified against the proposal stressed it would prevent Christian parents from raising their children as they see fit. Not surprisingly, none expressed concern over parenting principles for those of Jewish or Buddhist faith — or any other religion, for that matter.

Landry, who is a lawyer, stressed that her bill does not affect religious-based counseling, as that attempt would be unconstitutional.

“This isn’t an anti-Christian bill. It’s a human rights bill,” said Rep. Joe Stagni, R-Kenner, who voted for Landry’s proposal.

Pastors who testified in support of Landry’s legislation were labeled as members of a “left-wing, liberal” sect by opponent Susan Raborn, an attorney who identified herself multiple times as a Christian. She likened a child questioning their sexual orientation to one who pretends to be a fireman, a ballerina or a dog and proclaimed Landry’s bill conflicted with “the law of the Lord.”

You can bet that Raborn probably feels differently about Sharia law — and that she’s never met a gay fireman.

But the most befuddling argument against the bill came from Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, who suggested it was discriminatory because it didn’t offer protection for heterosexual minors. Landry appeared somewhat shocked that she had to explain to Crews that conversion therapy isn’t used on straight people. 

That Crews doubled down on his discrimination stance is not surprising. It’s become a fallback tactic for those who just don’t want to follow standards that strive for the greater good. For example, anti-vaxxers will cry “discrimination” when what they really mean is that they, in fact, are intolerant of the public’s health and safety.   

Crews and others would do well to talk to some of their Black colleagues to get a true idea of what discrimination is. They probably would be surprised to learn that it remains alive and well in the Legislature and especially thriving when it comes to targeting the LGBTQ community. 

Greg LaRose is editor in chief of Louisiana Illuminator. Follow him on Twitter @GregLaRose.


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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.