Ex-Gay Organization Lobbies Congress on First Day of Pride Month to Roll Back LGBTQ Protections

A small group of people who identify as "ex-gay" meaning formerly LGBTQ, appealed to lawmakers on Tuesday to roll back nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.

The group of "ex-gay" activists who also call themselves "OnceGay," are associated with an anti-LGBTQ organization called CHANGED. CHANGED co-founder Elizabeth Woning, who is also a pastor, said in an email to Newsweek that members of her group were "gathering in DC to lobby our Congress members as constituents to tell them people like us exist—many people leave LGBTQ identity and experience behind."

Woning said CHANGED leadership opposes the H.R. 5 bill, also known as the Equality Act, among other measures, because it grants wide-ranging protections to LGBTQ groups at the expense of anti-LGBTQ groups.

"HR5 goes too far in its attack on religious freedom and free speech, and by doing so limits freedoms that are vital to our lives," Woning said.

In a press release provided to Newsweek, the group cites issues with the Equality Act including its protections against conversion therapy.

"HR5 restricts change allowing counseling for people with unwanted same sex attraction or gender confusion," CHANGED said.

The release also notes disagreement with section 1107 of the bill, which adds the phrase "gender identity" to existing civil rights protections, saying it "removes RFRA protections. The 1st Amendment forbids Congress from restricting religious activity and guarantees freedom of expression."

Capitol building
A small group of people who identify as "ex-gay" meaning formerly LGBTQ, appealed to lawmakers on Tuesday to roll back nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. This is a stock image of the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Jesse Passwaters/Getty

The ex-gay activists are "in particular" concerned about "the conversation over transgender identifying children and youth," Woning said. She argued that most children who experience gender dysphoria will change their minds if treated with "psychological care," seemingly referring to conversion therapy.

"Yet, HR5 blocks the change allowing counseling that would enable children to align with their biological sex," Woning continued. "Too many of us were led astray by the misleading transgender affirming industry to be silent. It is heartless and irresponsible to not insist that desistance care be given that includes specialty medicine and psychological care."

Conversion therapy has been banned in 20 states as being potentially harmful, as well as largely discredited by medical authorities in the United States.

In recent years, three significant "ex-gay" leaders have come out or been outed as LGBTQ. In 2019, David Matheson, who co-wrote the "Journey Into Manhood" program, a major piece of many conversion therapy curriculums, came out as a gay man.

That same year McKrae Game, who led Hope for Wholeness, a faith-based conversion therapy program, came out as a gay man, saying "Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it's very harmful," Game told The Post and Courier. "Because it's false advertising."

In 2018, Norman Goldwasser, clinical director of Horizon Psychological Services, a conversion therapy center in Florida, was allegedly found using the gay hookup sites Manhunt and Gay Bear Nation under the screen name "hotnhairy72."

When asked if it being the first day of pride month had anything to do with their lobbying Congress Tuesday, Woning said "We have concern for the LGBTQ community, having been there ourselves."