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Murkowski Challenger Endorsed 'Ex-Gay' Therapy, Denounced Twilight

Murkowski Challenger Endorsed 'Ex-Gay' Therapy, Denounced Twilight

Kelly Tshibaka
Alaska Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka

A CNN KFile report details the far-right views of Kelly Tshibaka, a candidate challenging U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

A Republican politician challenging U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2022 election once endorsed conversion therapy, has denounced the Twilight book and movie series, and has claimed the 2020 presidential election was marked by widespread fraud.

CNN's KFile investigative project revealed these facts about Kelly Tshibaka, who who has hired many people with connections to Donald Trump for her campaign against Murkowski. Murkowski, a Republican, sometimes breaks with her party -- for instance, voting to uphold the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and against an anti-transgender amendment to this year's COVID-19 relief bill. She also voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, an act for which she was censured by the Alaska Republican Party.

Tshibaka, mounting a challenge from the right, has denounced Murkowski as "a D.C. insider, caring more about her image in Washington than ... what happens back home." Tshibaka removed some controversial posts from her social media feeds when she became a candidate, but KFile has unearthed some evidence of her beyond-conservative views.

In 2001, while attending Harvard Law School, Tshibaka promoted the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy, designed to turn LGBTQ+ people straight or cisgender, in an article for a student publication, The Harvard Law Record.

"Today is National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, a day dedicated to helping homosexuals overcome their sexual tendencies and move towards a healthy lifestyle," she wrote in the October 11 article, published under her maiden name, Kelly Hartline. "Compassionate people nationwide recognize this day, rather than the more publicized 'National Coming Out Day,' because they want people to live and enjoy their lives to the fullest."

"Homosexuals can come out of homosexuality because their preference is not biologically mandated," she continued. "Unlike race or gender, homosexuality is a choice." Actually, most mental health professionals disagree. Conversion therapy has been denounced by every major health organization in the nation as ineffective and harmful, and many states have barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to it.

She claimed that homosexuality is largely caused by sexual molestation in childhood, and she repeatedly cited the work of Exodus International, an "ex-gay" organization that shut down in 2013. "Exodus believes heterosexuality is God's creative intent for humanity and homosexuality is behavior outside of God's will," she wrote. "Accordingly, the sin of homosexuality can be redeemed through Jesus Christ."

KFile also found that Tshibaka's background includes objections to the Twilight series of paranormal teen romance novels and their movie adaptations. "Some say this book is harmless, that it promotes Christian values, and that it does not promote anything wicked at all. But Satan does not usually look repulsive, horrific, and evil on the outside," she wrote in an October 2009 blog post that KFile found through the internet's Wayback Machine.

"Make no mistake: 'Twilight' is a perfect example of how the enemy twists, perverts, and ridicules the things of God," she went on. "This is his m.o. This is how he works." The Twilight books were written by a Mormon, Stephenie Meyer.

More recently, Tshibaka has promoted baseless claims that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She has also linked illegal drug use to witchcraft and contended there is no separation of church and state in the U.S.

The candidate and her husband, Niki Tshibaka, are both Pentecostal ministers. While living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., several years ago, they founded a Foursquare church in Virginia, CNN reports. The Foursquare denomination is part of the Pentecostal movement, which believes in divine healing and speaking in tongues.

Kelly Tshibaka was a lawyer for the federal government for several years after finishing law school. Most recently, she was commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration, which handles personnel, finance, and a variety of other functions for the state. She resigned to run for Senate.

Alaska will have a new system for the upcoming election. Instead of each party having a primary, candidates of all parties will run against each other in a primary, and the four top finishers will advance to the general election, in which voters will rank their preferences.

Murkowski has been a U.S. senator since 2002. Often dubbed a moderate, she has a so-so record on LGBTQ+ issues. She came out for marriage equality in 2013, but she has yet to take a stand on the Equality Act, a sweeping LGBTQ+ civil rights bill, although she has endorsed its general goals and voted for its predecessor, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which never became law. She scored only three points out of a possible 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard for the 116th Congress (the session of January 2019 to January 2021) but 54 in the 115th Congress, for the previous two years, and 69 in the 114th Congress.

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