Jared Kushner is urging that support for conversion therapy be removed from the Republican Party’s platform ahead of the 2020 election.
The president’s son-in-law and senior advisor has been working to overhaul the party’s platform — which details the goals and issues that the party will campaign on during an election — as part of efforts to dramatically shrink it from its current 58-page state, Axios reports.
Kushner wants the platform to fit on a single-page card which voters can easily carry with them, and has suggested that language which alienates voters should be excised as part of the cuts — including any reference to conversion therapy.
Widely debunked and declared ineffective by former “ex-gay” leaders, conversion therapy seeks to forcibly change an LGBTQ person’s sexuality or gender identity. Such efforts can take the form of talk therapy, or more extreme measures such as aversion or electroshock therapy.
Medical experts have noted that side effects of the therapy can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, and, in more extreme cases, suicide attempts.
Per Axios: “As an example of language that would alienate voters, Kushner said that he didn’t want to see anything about ‘gay conversion therapy’ in the 2020 Republican platform.”
Instead, Kushner and the Trump campaign team want the GOP platform to be boiled down to “something like the 10 principles we believe in,” as opposed to the 58 pages of the 2016 platform.
“This is a concept that has been driven by the campaign,” Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s Director of Communications, told Axios. “A more concise platform is just one of many options being discussed, and it is in fact not a new idea.”
But LGBTQ Americans shouldn’t expect an open embrace in the platform if Kushner’s efforts are successful.
“In any event, we expect the 2020 platform to be the most conservative in history and one which will reflect the President’s conservative imprint on the Republican Party,” Murtaugh said.
At the time of its debut, the Republican Party’s 2016 platform was branded “the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history” by LGBTQ conservative organization the Log Cabin Republicans.
It included opposition to same-sex marriage, support for religious-based discrimination of LGBTQ people, opposition to same-sex families and adoption, and demanded an end to LGBTQ people serving openly in the military.
It also supported efforts to promote conversion therapy, though that language was less explicit, instead phrased as “supporting” parents in determining “proper treatment” for their minor children.
“We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children,” it said.
Last year, the American Medical Association announced that it would push for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy, saying the organization “agrees with medical experts that the lack of regulation on conversion therapy opens the door to fraud, harm and trauma for many adults and children in the U.S.”
The AMA said it had heard from those who underwent conversion therapy, detailing accounts of “the significant harms triggered by conversion therapy, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.”
Earlier this month, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden branded conversion therapy “sick” during a fundraiser, and said he supported a ban on the practice.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, has hired advisors who have actively supported conversion therapy. Jenna Ellis, senior legal advisor to Trump’s 2020 campaign, has previously advocated for conversion therapy, falsely claiming that it is safe and effective. She also has argued that bans on the practice infringe on the rights of parents to pursue “Christian therapy options” for their children.
Robert Jeffress, a Dallas pastor and member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, once said that a lesbian teenager who had “seriously contemplated suicide” over her sexuality should undergo conversion therapy.
He has also said that it can help LGBTQ Christians “manage their temptations” and claimed that a “heterosexual shift is a possibility for all homosexuals who are strongly motivated to change.”
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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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