1/17/2012 Testimony of Grace Harley before the Baltimore County (Maryland) Council:
Good evening, Council members. I am very grateful for the opportunity to address you. I am Grace Harley, speaking for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, known as PFOX, a non-profit organization that works to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals.
I am here to let you know that people can leave homosexuality and transgenderism permanently.
I lived for 18 years as a transgendered man called Joe. I once wanted to have sex reassignment surgery but could not afford it. Later on in my 20s, I asked my gynecologist for a hysterectomy. He refused, but I was able to get testosterone injections. Today I am all woman, body, mind and soul. I am no longer Joe, no longer do I have the mind of a male.
I also know of so many homosexuals who left homosexuality and no longer identify as gay. Because of this, they are discriminated against and verbally abused by society. Therefore, I ask you to protect all people, and not just a few.
Councilmember Tom Quirk, as the sponsor of Human Relations Bill No. 3-12, which would protect sexual orientation and gender identity or expression from discrimination, I ask that you include ex-gays in your legislation. The bill defines ‘sexual orientation’ as homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality. Your current definition is not broad enough to cover all individuals from discrimination because the definition does not specifically include former homosexuals.
Each year thousands of men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality. However, there are others in society who refuse to respect individual self-determination. Consequently, formerly gay men and women are reviled simply because they dare to exist.
Two years ago PFOX sued the Washington D.C. Office of Human Rights because it refused to extend protection to former homosexuals under the city’s sexual orientation non-discrimination law. So now former homosexuals are entitled to the same legal protections as others and recognized as a protected class under D.C.’s Human Rights Act.
Baltimore County should do the same and extend sexual orientation protection to the ex-gay community. If you can provide protection to people who change their gender, then you can certainly provide protection to people who change their sexual orientation. All it takes is to add two words, “former homosexuality,” to the bill’s definition, to ensure protection from discrimination for everyone and not just some. Councilmember Quirk, I know you can do this because you believe in diversity and safety for us all.
Action Alert: Email, phone, and fax the Councilmembers and urge them to include ex-gays in their sexual orientation bill. Talking points can be found at: http://pfox.org/about_us.html
Baltimore County Councilmembers Tom Quirk, Vicki Almond, Todd Huff, Kenneth N. Oliver, David Marks, Cathy A. Bevins, and John lszewski
Address: 400 Washington Avenue, Room 205
Court House, Second Floor, Mailstop 2201
Towson, Maryland 21204