Fighting Conversion Therapy Top Priority For LGBTQ Lobbyists

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Iowans gathered at the Statehouse on Tuesday as One Iowa hosted its annual LGBTQ Day on the Hill.

Activists lobbied against conversion therapy and for expanding protection against hate crimes. The day is very important to people like Sophia Stone.

"This is my community, this is my family, and I am going to fight as hard as I possibly can for them," she said.

Stone demonstrated support by lobbying against conversion therapy, which has already been banned by the American Medical Association.

“It creates such psychological trauma to go through conversion therapy to be told and forced to be somebody who you aren't," Stone said.

Conversion therapy is among other legislative priorities like the Iowa Civil Rights Act, school vouchers/school choice, and hate crime protection.

“We're also lobbying for the addition of gender identity to the Iowa Hate Crimes Code. We know that transgender people and especially transgender pepole of color face violence and murder at higher rates than everybody else in the nation, so we want to make sure that transgender Iowans are safe and secure," Democratic Representative Liz Bennett said.

Senate File 73 did not pass the legislature in 2017, but is being re-introduced this year. If passed, it would expand hate crime laws to include transgender people.

Danny Carroll is a lobbyist for The Family Leader, a religions group that opposes same sex marriage. Carrol did not take a clear position on the pieces of legislature lobbied by One Iowa.

“We haven't taken a position so I can’t really speak specifically to the bill, but in general certainly everyone, regardless of their lifestyle or persuasion, should be protected," Carroll said.

Stone says she needs help fighting for her rights and the rights of others.

"And what we need more than anything is for our allies, for those who aren't transgender to support us and accept us for who we are," she said.

Activists also lobbied against Senate File 2091, the bill that introduces a school voucher program. The activists' position is that all school funding measures should ensure state dollars go only to institutions that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.