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Ohio Trans Care Ban Sponsor Caught on Video Backing Conversion Therapy

Ohio Trans Care Ban Sponsor Caught on Video Backing Conversion Therapy

Ohio Rep. Gary Click

State Rep. Gary Click also connected LGBTQ+ identity to Nazi ideology.

Ohio Rep. Gary Click, sponsor of a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors in the state, says he’s never promoted or practiced conversion therapy — but he’s been caught on video endorsing the discredited and harmful practice, which his bill likewise endorses.

Click, a Republican, is also associated with numerous religious right groups and leaders, including Tony Perkins, president of the notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Family Research Council, the Ohio Capital Journalreports.

His pending legislation, House Bill 68, would ban hormone treatment, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgery for the purpose of gender transition for anyone under 18. Genital surgery is almost never performed on minors anyway. The penalty for violation would be discipline by the relevant professional licensing board, and violators would be subject to civil suits as well.

The bill further says the state or its cities and counties cannot prohibit “watchful waiting, treatment and therapies similar to those provided for the treatment of body dysmorphia and eating disorders, or other models of care that assist minor individuals experiencing a gender-related condition in reconciling their gender identity with their biological sex.” It would require mental health professionals treating trans you to screen them for a variety of other conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and more.

“Collectively, these provisions amount to forced conversion therapy for transgender youth,” journalist Erin Reed writes in her Substack newsletter. “It pulls them from their medical care, it bans well-supported psychological care by imposing burdensome reporting requirements and mandating assessments that do not exist, it bars aiding and abetting gender transition for trans youth, and it explicitly legalizes conversion therapy for this population.”

Capital Journal reporter Riley Roliff found a YouTube video of Click giving a sermon on LGBTQ+ issues four years ago at Fremont Baptist Temple in Fremont, Ohio, where he is pastor. In it, he claims that Satan is trying to undermine the family, and that same-sex attraction and transgender identity are part of that plan.

“You’re not born that way,” he says. “God’s not going to curse you in the wrong body. He’s not going to curse you with desires that cannot be adequately and appropriately and biologically fulfilled correctly.”

He criticizes California legislation banning conversion therapy, which he inaccurately says applies to churches — in reality, the law applies only to state-licensed mental health professionals. He also contends the state is prohibiting the sale of books that offer advice on changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity — again, not true.

Click says he has counseled people on their “struggles” with being gay or trans, but he doesn’t call that conversion therapy. He describes it as “lovingly” counseling them on “what the Bible says” and how to be “at one with the body God gave them.” He has helped people “overcome” being LGBTQ+, he says.

He told the Capital Journal that doesn’t amount to an endorsement of conversion therapy. “Conversion therapy requires force or at minimum an act of trying to change someone into something that they do not wish to be,” he said, adding, “When an individual is struggling with unwanted feelings and they approach me or someone else, it is entirely ethical to listen to them, pray with them, and provide encouragement and strength and reinforcement as they determine for themselves how they wish to live.”

During the sermon, he also connects LGBTQ+ identity to Nazi ideology. He shows a picture of himself at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., posing in from of a wall bearing Martin Niemoller’s famed poem “First They Came,” listing various groups singled out for persecution and extermination in Nazi Germany. He likens this to what he considers the assault on the family, saying, “When the family crumbles, society crumbles. If the church is silent, then the church will be held responsible. We can’t afford to be silent.” Never mind that the Nazis sent LGBTQ+ people, especially gay men, to concentration camps and that some churches were silent about that as well as the mass murder of Jews and other populations.

He goes on to show a photo of himself with Perkins, the Capital Journal notes. The publication additionally points out his affiliation with Baptist International Outreach, which has a doctrinal statement saying that “homosexuality is an abomination to God and a scourge to any society” and that the Bible “condemns cross-dressing and effeminacy.” Click told the Capital Journal that while he once was an adviser to the group, he no longer is. He said he is “not familiar with what their doctrinal statement currently says” but called it “a good organization.”

The sermon concludes with recommendations of various other religious right groups as he urges conservative Christians to become politically engaged. One of the groups, the Center for Christian Virtue, encouraged Click to introduce the ban on gender-affirming care.

Ohio Republican Gary Click discussing conversion therapy during a

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