Things That Matter

Founder Of Nation’s Largest Conversion Therapy Group For Gay People Has Come Out As A Gay Man And Why Aren’t We Surprised

McKrae Game, the founder of one of the country’s largest conversion therapy programs has come out as gay and has apologized for the damage he has caused. No apology will ever be enough. Conversion therapy is nothing short of issuing psychological warfare on an innocent person because of who they love and who they are. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ+ young people who are “highly rejected” by their caregivers compared to those who are not, are eight more times likely to have attempted suicide, six times more likely to have depression, three times more likely to use illegal drugs, and three times more likely to be at high risk for HIV and STDs. 

Anything short of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people puts their lives at risk. Moreover, it is nothing short of immoral and quite frankly, narcissistic to think you can decide who someone ought to be or that your opinion matters more than scientific evidence.

The result of rejection is LGBTQ+ children who hate themselves and grow up to hate other LGBTQ+ people. McKrae Game is a product of a bigotted society, it’s very sad, but he must be held accountable for inflicting so much more pain and trauma. 

Hope for Wholeness

McKrae Game, now 51, founded Hope for Wholeness, a faith-based conversion therapy in South Carolina, two decades ago. Game married a woman and preached to thousands of people that they could change their sexual orientation, all the while being gay himself. 

In 2017, he was abruptly fired by Hope for Wholeness’ board of directors. This summer he came out and severed ties with the organization. 

“I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” Game told the Post and Courier. “People said they attempted suicide over me and the things I said to them. People, I know, are in therapy because of me. Why would I want that to continue?”

Conversion Therapy Is a for-profit business. 

Game has not just hurt thousands of LGBTQ+, he has profited from that pain. That pain was his livelihood. Even in his Facebook apology, Game announced an upcoming book about his journey. Will he be refunding all of the money stolen from families? Will he be paying back damages for pain and suffering? I haven’t located any such declaration. 

“Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful,” Game said. “Because it’s false advertising.”

While it is unclear how many people have been “counseled” by Hope for Wholeness, an IRS Form 990 from 2007 revealed the ministry had administered 528 counseling sessions and held 60 group meetings that year. Game believes they’ve hurt thousands.

“I created it all,” Game said of Hope for Wholeness. “We have harmed generations of people.”

Things are changing.

In 2014, nine former founders and leaders of conversion therapy programs published a letter on the National Center for Lesbian Rights. 

“As former ex-gay leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy,” they wrote. “It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBTQ individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.”

According to a 2018 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute, roughly 700,000 LGBTQ+ people have undergone conversion therapy. In 2018, the Trevor Project launched “50 Bills in 50 States,” a lobbying campaign to pass legislation barring conversation therapy on minors. Today 18 states and Puerto Rico have laws banning and regulating the use of conversion therapy on minors.

Conversion Therapy does not work.

Some caregivers may believe that they are giving a child the best chance at a good life by trying to “straighten” them out to spare them the bigotry and adversity that comes with being marginalized. Point blank, there is no scientific evidence that suggests you can change someone’s sexual orientation.

In 2007, an American Psychological Association task force examined the existing research to determine if conversion therapy was effective, they concluded that the “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through sexual orientation change efforts (SOCEs).”

Where do we go from here?

There is this pervasive myth that when someone really hates LGBTQ+ people they must be a member of the community themselves. This harmful stereotype attributes the oppression of LGBTQ+ people to themselves. That’s unlikely and offensive. The reality is that when the dominant culture asserts cis-heterosexuality as the only acceptable form of love LGBTQ+ people internalize those harmful messages and worst of all, start to believe it. 

If you are convinced who you are is wrong then the only form of self-improvement is changing yourself, and when you can’t, you inevitably blame yourself even more. This is how trauma is formed and passed onto others. Acceptance is the only answer. Acceptance is the only effective liberation. 

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Supreme Court Rules LGBTQ+ People Protected From Workplace Discrimination

Things That Matter

Supreme Court Rules LGBTQ+ People Protected From Workplace Discrimination

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The Supreme Court has ruled that companies cannot fire people for being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Before the ruling, it was still legal for employers to fire people for being part of the LGBTQ+ community. This is a major victory for LGBTQ+ Americans and a major loss for the Trump administration.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of LGBTQ+ employees.

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the LGBTQ+ community is protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are protected from discriminatory firings and treatment for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The court’s decision states that the LGBTQ+ community is protected under Title VII of the act.

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the decision. “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

The decision was 6-3 in favor of protecting LGBTQ+ employees.

Conservative justice Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Samuel A. Alito Jr all voted against protecting LGBTQ+ protections in the workplace. Justices John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer voted that the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does include LGBTQ+ people.

“There is only one word for what the court has done today: legislation. The document that the court releases is in the form of a judicial opinion interpreting a statute, but that is deceptive,” Alito wrote in the dissent. “A more brazen abuse of our authority to interpret statutes is hard to recall. The court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous.”

The ruling protects millions of LGBTQ+ workers in states that offered no protection.

Before the ruling, employees in several states faced a constant threat of termination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The fear was greater for transgender people who had protections in fewer states than gay and lesbian workers. Justice Gorsuch did state the scope of the ruling.

“We do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms or anything else of the kind,” Justice Gorsuch wrote. “Whether other policies and practices might or might not qualify as unlawful discrimination or find justifications under other provisions of Title VII are questions for future cases, not these.”

The decision comes on a day that they also decided not to hear arguments in a case of qualified immunity for police.

It requires four justices to agree to allow for a case to be heard by the justices. Justice Thoms dissented the decision not to take up the case. The conservative justice claims that “qualified immunity doctrine appears to stray from the statutory text.”

Advocates want to see the qualified immunity doctrine to be revised. The doctrine currently makes it easy for lower courts to dismiss cases against police officers. Growing protests in the U.S. demanding a change in police reform after the death of George Floyd.

READ: Supreme Court Refuses Case Challenging California’s Sanctuary State Status

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Signs New Law That Removes Many Of The Island’s Protections For Women And The LGBTQ Community

Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s Governor Signs New Law That Removes Many Of The Island’s Protections For Women And The LGBTQ Community

Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

Until recently, Puerto Rico had several laws on the books that dated all the way back to when it was a Spanish colony – some 130 years ago. It was widely acknowledged that the island’s civil code needed to be updated. However, the territory’s unelected governor has just signed into law an updated civil code that many say strips away hard won civil rights protections for women and the LGBTQ community.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez signed into law updates to the civil code that put several communities at risk.

Credit: Carlos Giusti / Getty

This week, the island’s governor, Wanda Vázquez, signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the territory’s civil code – and in doing so, many say legal protections for at-risk communities have been wiped away.

The civil code hadn’t been updated since the 1930s, and many of the island’s old laws dated back to when the island was still a Spanish colony. Therefore, many experts agree that there was a need to update several laws in a way that reflects today’s modern society.

After Puerto Rico’s constitution, the island’s civil code is the most significant legal document in the territory. But the new civil code infringes upon the “human rights gains of women and LGBTQI+ people” by giving rights to fetuses, limiting people’s ability to amend their birth certificates in ways that are consistent with their gender identities and failing to “explicitly prohibit discrimination,” according to the advocacy group Comité Amplio para la Búsqueda de Equidad, which loosely translates to the Committee for Equity.

Law experts and civil rights activists were quick to express concern and outrage over the move.

Everyone from legal experts and civil rights activists to Puerto Rican celebrities (including Ricky Martin) have spoken out against the update and many say some of the laws represent a historical setback. In fact, the word “discrimination” doesn’t appear in the new civil code at all.

“Puerto Rico’s governor signed into law significant revisions to the island’s civil codes that shamefully ignore the urgent calls of local advocates to explicitly include vital, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement. “The government has failed to carry out its primary duty of ensuring the safety and well-being of all Puerto Ricans, including LGBTQ Puerto Ricans.”

The move also comes as Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ community – especially the trans community – is under increased attack.

The new civil code, which doesn’t even mention the word discrimination, was signed into law just as the island is experiencing a severe uptick in violence against LGBTQ Puerto Ricans.

Five transgender Puerto Ricans have been killed in the U.S. commonwealth since the beginning of 2020. These include Serena Angelique Velázquez and Layla Pelaz, two trans women who were murdered in April in Humacao before their bodies were placed inside a car that was set on fire.

In what seems like a direct attack on the trans community, the new civil code prohibits people from changing the sex they were assigned at birth in their original birth certificates. That, according to the Committee for Equity, is effectively “jeopardizing the rights of trans people.”

Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, a lawyer and the director of the nonprofit Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project at the National LGBTQ Task Force, told NBC News that “this type of action by the government, the Legislature, and the rhetoric that comes from the religious right inflicts physical harm” on trans people because it fuels “hate crimes and allows families to reject their trans relatives.”

Puerto Rico’s trans community had finally won some serious legal rights – these are being set back with the new laws.

Since 2018, transgender people in Puerto Rico have been able to correct their birth certificates to reflect their gender identities after winning a 15-year legal battle in federal court. Since then, a trans person can go to the Demographic Registry with an order from a social worker or a medical professional “who puts their credentials on the line” guaranteeing that a person lives with the gender of their preference.

The new civil code seems to roll back those protections when it says “no amendments to the sex a person was born with can be authorized in the original birth certificate,” adding that a court is the only entity with the power to “make an annotation next to the original sex designation” if a person wishes to correct their designation after birth.

The new civil code could also infringe upon the rights of women to maintain control over their health and body.

As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico is subject to Supreme Court rulings – so abortion rights continue to exist on the island through the Roe v. Wade ruling.

However, the new civil code recognizes an unborn child’s “condition as a person,” adding that it’s “considered born for all the effects that are favorable to him or her.” Granting rights to an unborn child means that the government could intervene and place more obstacles later on. Several experts agree that it opens the door to start limiting abortions in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is no stranger to such efforts. Over the past year, conservative lawmakers have tried to pass legislation to limit women’s access to abortions. Rep. María Milagros “Tata” Charbonier, president of the commission within Puerto Rico’s House in charge of creating the new civil code, supported bills looking to limit abortions. She also spearheaded an unsuccessful attempt to block same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico after the Supreme Court legalized it in 2015.

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