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Kelly Tshibaka, Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), once supported “ex-gay” conversion therapy and believes that homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse.
CNN’s KFile investigated Tshibaka, a conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter who is running against Murkowski in the 2022 election, and found an article by the former federal government lawyer arguing that gay people can “work through the process of coming out of homosexuality.”
Published in the Harvard Law Record, Tshibaka celebrated “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day” in the article, which she said was “dedicated to helping homosexuals overcome their sexual tendencies and move towards a healthy lifestyle.”
Tshibaka told gay people “not be controlled by the ‘once-gay-always-gay-rhetoric’ used to advance political agendas” and instead wrote that Christianity could help them to “come out of homosexuality.”
She specifically mentioned the now-defunct “ex-gay” organization Exodus International, an umbrella organization that touted conversion therapy — a widely debunked practice that claims to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
In her article, Tshibaka referenced Exodus’ claim that “the most common cause of homosexuality is sexual molestation during childhood,” and advised that gay people instead seek “pastoral counseling, accountability groups, personal prayer and Bible studies.”
In addition to supporting conversion therapy, Tshibaka also endorsed conspiracy theories alleging that twice-impeached former president Donald Trump was the victim of widespread voter fraud when he lost the 2020 election.
She claimed this month that we “don’t know the outcome of the 2020 election” (President Biden bested Trump by 7 million votes and 74 electoral college votes) and has previously demanded an investigation into “credible allegations of fraud, voter suppression, and voting irregularities.”
CNN also found instances of Tshibaka — who, along with her husband Niki, is a Pentecostal minister — denouncing the Twilight franchise, as well as warning against the dangers of witchcraft.
Specifically, she called Twilight “evil” and said her supporters “should not read or watch it.”
Some say this book is harmless, that it promotes Christian values, and that it does not promote anything wicked at all,” she wrote in 2009. “But Satan does not usually look repulsive, horrific, and evil on the outside.”
She has also railed against people consuming media that “incorporate, focus on, or glorify things like magic, witchcraft, vampires, or the occult.”
After CNN reached out to Tshibaka about her anti-LGBTQ comments, she responded saying, “I strongly believe that we should treat all people with respect and dignity. The student article was assigned to me by an editor as a counterpoint piece about 20 years ago, and I don’t hold that point of view today.”
Tshibaka said she opposes same-sex marriage, but added, “the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.”
She refrained from saying whether she still supports conversion therapy.
Sen. Murkowski, whom Tshibaka hopes to unseat, is a relatively moderate Republican, although her record on LGBTQ rights is mixed.
A senator since 2002, she voted in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman in 2004 and another banning same-sex marriage in 2006.
However, she supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010, and in 2013 became the third sitting Republican senator to support same-sex marriage. She also voted to expand social security benefits to same-sex couples in 2015.
Earlier this year, she opposed an amendment to strip federal funds from schools that allow trans athletes to compete according to their gender identity, and supported the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, to be assistant health secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.
However, Murkowski has yet to endorse the Equality Act, a landmark piece of LGBTQ rights legislation that would enshrine nondiscrimination protections into federal law.
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