Potential trigger warning: This column cites anti-LGBTQ+ quotes in an effort to demonstrate how we must vote against anti-LGBTQ+ politicians.
On Thursday, members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community celebrated the news: The New York City Council passed a bill banning conversion therapy, the controversial — and cruel — therapy meant to turn gay people straight. As the bill goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio for signing, it seems as though we’ve finally got a speck of good news in the turbulent ocean of terrible sound bites we’ve heard for months on end.
This is certainly a victory. Gay conversion therapy has long been criticized as inhumane and downright wrong. According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the techniques associated with conversion therapy are “devoid of scientific validity and pose serious dangers to patients — especially to minors, who are often forced to undergo them by their parents or legal guardians.” Similarly, both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have warned of the dangers of conversion therapy.
This therapy rests on the foundation that we must see same-sex attraction as a mental illness, a notion so grossly ancient and awful it boggles my mind people actually continue to think this way. It would be easy for me to think, especially as a white, middle-class woman, that the LGBTQ+ community has mostly emerged victorious from these hard-fought battles, that there is not much left to fight for. It seems simple to dismiss homophobic and transphobic remarks as the words of crazies, certainly not the mainstream and not worth correcting. But this is just not so.
Let’s take a look at some contemporary elected officials and political hopefuls, for example. First up: Vice President Mike Pence. In 2016, Time magazine shared a collection of Pence’s remarks on LGBTQ+ issues throughout his time in the public eye. In 2006, he said in a speech that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family,” in reference of same-sex couples.
Last May, Pence opposed former President Barack Obama’s initiative to let students use the bathrooms of their preferred genders. And just this October, while discussing gay rights, President Donald Trump joked that Pence “wants to hang them all.” (By the way, Mr. President, jokes are supposed to be funny.)
So right off the bat, both our president and vice president have spoken with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and quite clearly do not serve as allies to the community. Can we even act surprised? Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, now known for horrendous allegations of sexual misconduct and assault made by multiple women, was disgusting even before his terrible actions came to light.
Twelve years ago, Moore compared homosexuality to bestiality. As a judge, Moore refused to acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage constitutional across the country. Last week, Moore called the sexual misconduct allegations against him part of a conspiracy led by liberals; gay, bisexual and transgender people; and socialists alike.
We must work to ensure people like Moore do not hold elected office. Make sure other people know the dangerous views of those in and running for public positions. Share their views — being sure to warn others of their wrongness and offense. Please, when the time comes, vote against these people. Support the LGBTQ+ community, whether you are a member or an ally. Help create and nurture a society where we are free to love and be loved by whomever we choose.
Mia Gettenberg is a UF criminology and philosophy senior. Her column appears on Mondays.