REP LIEU AND THE EQUALITY CAUCUS TEAM UP WITH DAN REYNOLDS OF IMAGINE DRAGONS IN FIGHT TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM TAXPAYER-FUNDED CONVERSION "THERAPY"

February 6, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33), a Vice Chair of the Equality Caucus, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, welcomed Dan Reynolds, the lead vocalist for Imagine Dragons, Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees, and Carmen Carrera of RuPaul’s Drag Race to the United States Capitol to share concerns impacting LGBTQ youth, including the need for a federal ban on taxpayer-funded conversion “therapy.”

Reps. Lieu and Maloney have introduced legislation to prohibit for-profit conversion therapy at the federal level and to ban Medicaid funds from being used to pay for conversion “therapy.

“I was grateful to meet with Dan, Tyler and Carmen to discuss our shared goal of ending conversion therapy across the country. Conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice based on the prejudiced belief that someone can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity. One of the proudest moments of my career was authoring California’s statewide conversion therapy ban. And today, building support for and passing the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act could not be more important. I look forward to working with Representative Maloney, the survivors and advocates to end this scam and enact a federal ban,” said Rep. Ted Lieu.

“Conversion ‘therapy’ isn’t therapy at all -- it’s a harmful, discredited, and illegitimate practice that threatens the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people throughout the country,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “I’m proud to team up with such powerful activists and allies in the music and entertainment industries to raise awareness of this important issue and get my bill banning taxpayer-funded conversion ‘therapy’ brought to the House floor for a vote.”

“LOVELOUD’s goal as both a festival and foundation is to empower LGBTQ+ youth and arm them with the tools to go back and create change in their own communities. Another thing we’re learning, though, is that we also need to come together and do the hard work to make a difference in the long term. That’s why we’re in DC,” said Dan Reynolds, lead vocalist for Imagine Dragons. 

Dan Reynolds has been an outspoken ally and advocate for the LGBTQ community and has used his public platform to speak out against the practice of conversion “therapy”. He is the producer of the 2018 documentary “Believer,” which examines the intersection between LGBT people and the Mormon church. Reynolds founded LOVELOUD Festival in 2016 alongside Neon Trees vocalist Tyler Glenn to bring awareness to the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. Reynolds, Glenn and RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni / LOVELOUD Board member Carmen Carrera, in conjunction with the Equality Caucus, the LOVE LOUD Foundation, Universal Music Group, and the Motion Picture Association, will host a special screening of “Believer” and a talkback Wednesday evening.

“LOVELOUD began with the youth who came to us and shared their own incredible stories. We’re all so excited for the opportunity to continue sharing those stories here in DC, and we’re grateful to the nonprofits who forward our mission and to everyone on the Hill who we’ll be meeting with. It’s an honor to stand alongside Dan and Carmen in this cause,” said Tyler Glenn, of Neon Trees.

Conversion “therapy” attempts to “cure” the sexual orientation or gender identity of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite being discredited by the American Psychiatric AssociationAmerican College of PhysiciansAmerican Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, and other medical and civil rights organizations, thousands of innocent LGBTQ people are subjected to so-called “conversion” or “reparative therapy” each year. Research has found that the practice can lead to depression, decreases in self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ young people have been forced to undergo the practice.

“LGBTQ+ youth who aren’t accepted in their families experience higher rates of depression, suicide and drug abuse, yet conversion therapy is only banned in 19 states. That is unacceptable – we’re committed to changing this and we’re thankful to be working with legislators who also want to make sure all queer youth have a chance at the best life possible,” said Carmen Carrera, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum.

In 2019, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney introduced H.R. 1981, the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act, which would prevent Medicaid funds from being used to pay for conversion “therapy” and crack down on misleading billing tactics, which have allowed taxpayer dollars to fund the discredited practice. The bill is cosponsored by 115 members of Congress.

Also in 2019, Rep. Ted Lieu re-introduced H.R. 3570, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would make it unlawful for any person to provide for-profit conversion therapy or to advertise for the provision of conversion therapy. It would allow the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the prohibition under the Federal Trade Commission Act and would provide additional enforcement authority to the Department of Justice and state attorneys general. The bill is cosponsored by 134 members of Congress. 

Rep. Maloney’s Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act and Rep. Lieu’s Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2019 have broad support from LGBTQ equality and rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, Trevor Project, and Born Perfect:

“Being LGBTQ is not a mental illness and should never be treated that way,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for Human Rights Campaign. “So-called 'conversion therapy' has been universally rejected by every major medical and mental health organization, and it poses serious health risks including depression and suicide. Lawmakers across the country have stepped up to protect against conversion therapy, including in nineteen states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico which have enacted protections against conversion therapy, and it is long past time for the federal government to do the same. We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Ted Lieu on this issue at the federal level. We call on Congress to advance legislation to ensure that providers cannot subject LGBTQ people to these dangerous and discredited practices.”

“The Trevor Project regularly hears from LGBTQ young people who have been harmed by conversion therapy and our research has found that those who have been subjected to it were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who did not. Not one dime of American taxpayer money should go to the perpetrators of these frauds,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act and The Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act would both work to prevent public funding of this discredited practice and to protect LGBTQ young people from the dangers of this so-called therapy nationwide.”

“Over a period of five years, my parents paid more than thirty-five thousand dollars to licensed practitioners who fraudulently promised to cure my homosexuality.  As a 16-year-old when I was first sent to conversion therapy, I trusted the professionals who treated me, and my parents trusted them as well. There was no one to protect my family or to make sure we understood that conversion therapy is a discredited practice that has no basis in medical science and will harm me for the rest of my life.  I am grateful to be here today advocating with elected officials like Sean Patrick Maloney and my team at Born Perfect to ensure that other families do not go through the financial and psychological harm that my family and I suffered,” said Mathew Shurka, Born Perfect Co-Founder, and conversion therapy survivor.

Rep. Maloney is the first openly gay Member of Congress from New York. After 22 years together, he married his husband Randy Florke in June 2014 in Cold Spring, NY where they live with their three children. Rep. Maloney serves as a Co-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

Ted W. Lieu represents California’s 33rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Ted is serving in his third term in Congress and currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also elected by his Democratic Colleagues to serve as a Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. 

Founded in 2008, the mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The Caucus, which is led by the seven openly LGBT members of Congress, is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. The Caucus Co-Chairs are David Cicilline (RI- 01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Mark Takano (CA-41).