Anti-equality lawmakers wasted no time proposing anti-LGBTQ bills as the 2020 legislative session began in statehouses across the country. In a matter of weeks, anti-equality lawmakers in South Dakota, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Missouri have proposed bills attacking transgender health care, LGBTQ sex education, and basic civil rights. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a total of 25 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in state legislatures throughout the United States.
However, there has been one bright spot.
Last week, Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert announced that the state would ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors. Utah joins 18 other states and the District of Columbia in banning the abusive and widely discredited practice.
This was welcome news for one LGBTQ trailblazer in Utah: State Senator Derek Kitchen (D), who has worked throughout his career to end conversion therapy once and for all.
Victory Institute caught up with Sen. Kitchen after the Governor’s announcement:
Victory: What was your reaction to the Governor’s announcement that Utah banned the abusive practice of “conversion therapy”?
Senator Kitchen: “I am proud of our governor for listening to LGBTQ Utahns and their families. This is a remarkable step for our republican governor to take, and a political risk. This kind of leadership is to be applauded.”
Victory: What are next steps for the LGBTQ equality movement in Utah?
Senator Kitchen: “The LGBTQ community will continue our fight for deepening our inclusion in the political, business, and social culture in the state of Utah. Progress must be made in terms of visibility at all levels of society. We need to ensure that our Transgender, queer, and gender non-binary residents find love, support, and a place in our culture. This fight is far from over, but we are making progress.”
Victory: What lessons can other states take from Utah’s bipartisan approach to banning “conversion therapy”?
Senator Kitchen: “Tell your stories. Continue to come out to family, friends, colleagues. When we tell our stories, we have a chance to change hearts and minds. Only when this work is done, over and over and over again, will conservative states be able to move the needle on LGBTQ equality. Banning conversion therapy is in line with conservative values of family, health, and strong communities. I am proud of Utah for being a leader on this front.”
Utah Senator Derek Kitchen is one of 842 LGBTQ elected officials currently serving in the U.S. For more information, please visit Victory Institute’s Out for America map!