2018 | Week of April 2 | #1249
Most often, it would be nice if what happens in Milwaukee stays in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, that doesn’t usually happen, and I seriously doubt it will with this latest debacle.
Last month, we learned the Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Health and Safety Committee was holding a hearing on a proposed ordinance that would ban, as it relates to minors under the age of 18, what is commonly referred to as “conversion” or “reparative” therapy and counseling.
This type of therapy and counseling is most frequently associated with individuals who are experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction or unwanted gender confusion. It is mostly talking and does not involve coercive or aversive techniques, which no one would sanction. While such counseling does not affirm or encourage a person to embrace same-sex attraction or to assume a new gender, it is counseling that offers real help and hope for those struggling with these matters. Christian counselors would certainly counsel this way as they use the Bible as their source of Truth and the only place for real help and hope on these issues and every other issue. Many parents who have children dealing with these issues, especially Christian parents, seek out this type of counseling for their kids.
The hearing before the committee was interesting, almost fascinating. The only people allowed to speak were people supporting the ordinance. I found that curious; so I called Milwaukee City Hall to ask how a member of the public gets to speak in a committee or full common council meeting. Basically what I was told was that can’t happen without either an invitation from someone on the council or committee or unless a meeting is specifically designated as a “public hearing.” Otherwise, as I was informed the way citizens can have input is by directly contacting their own council member. I think that’s an incredibly poor way or a city to operate in our state. It does nothing to encourage citizen involvement and affords city government the opportunity to keep out of the media any message they don’t want to get out—which is what I believe is going on here.
The ordinance says conversion therapy or counseling that happens with a fee exchanged is banned for minors. And it goes on to say, the only counseling that is permitted, basically, is counseling that affirms and encourages homosexuality and gender non-acceptance. Pretty stiff monetary penalties are included, with jail time being a possibility. The sponsor of the ordinance said before the committee that the police department will be the enforcing agency, which is very unusual for these types of ordinances. Those seeking to ban this help and hope therapy and counseling want to immediately remove the threat, as they see it.
And that is how those supporting this ordinance see such counseling. At the hearing and in the council meeting last week, they talked incessantly in terms of harm being done to LGBTQ kids by conversion or reparative therapy and also frequently mentioned churches, pastors and faith-based ministries as the culprits from their perspective.
The committee ultimately voted 2-0, with 2 additional alderpersons abstaining, to advance the proposal to the full Common Council.
A group of very concerned Milwaukee pastors representing the full diversity of our state’s largest city, met three times after the committee vote and before the full council meeting to learn more about the ordinance and to discuss next steps. On the Monday before last Tuesday’s council meeting, a number of these pastors showed up at city hall to pray—out loud and very publicly—both inside and outside. These pastors and their efforts have been incredibly encouraging to see.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Common Council disregarded the pastors and their prayers, as well as the many phone calls we know they received urging them to vote no on this proposal. Last Tuesday, the council voted 12-2 with another member abstaining in favor of this bad idea—an idea that robs parents of the right to make counseling decisions on behalf of their children and will very likely eventually trounce on the religious freedom of churches and pastors to teach, preach and counsel according to the truth of the Word of God.
I wish this horrible idea would stay in Milwaukee but experience tells me soon other Wisconsin municipalities will be emboldened to put the ordinance on their agendas. We can only hope citizens are alert, aware and prepared to stop these ordinances before they gain traction.
For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”