Connect with us

Virginia

Republican Va. congressional candidate claims he can ‘cure’ LGBTQ people

Leon Benjamin is running for late-Congressman Don McEachin’s seat

Published

on

Right-wing pundit Leon Benjamin, the Republican-backed nominee for a U.S. House special election in Virginia next month, says that he runs a “ministry” devoted to getting people to “escape” from “homosexual and lesbian living.” Benjamin has falsely and dangerously claimed LGBTQ people can be “healed” by changing their identity and compared his ministering to helping adulterers, thieves, and murderers. 

Benjamin is the host of the streaming program B-Alert News and a frequent guest on far-right shows. Media Matters previously reported that he has repeatedly used his media platform to push bizarre anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and false claims about elections being stolen.  

Benjamin is running in the Feb. 21 special election for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. The seat was vacated because of the death of Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin. Benjamin unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2020 and 2022. 

The Republican Party of Virginia is backing Benjamin. Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin endorsed Benjamin during his 2022 run and appeared at at least one event with him. 

On Jan. 15, MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart challenged Benjamin over a Facebook post he wrote comparing LGBTQ people to being “sick” and addicted to drugs. Benjamin responded by claiming he has compassion for LGBTQ people. 

But in numerous media appearances, Benjamin pushes conversion therapy, the torturous and discredited practice which attempts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. GLAAD has written

“Anti-LGBTQ activists have falsely claimed for years that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice and changeable — but only for LGBTQ people. They often falsely claim that LGBTQ identities are not real, but rather an expression of mental illness or an emotional disorder that can be ‘cured’ through psychological or religious intervention. 

Programs that claim to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, known as “conversion therapy,” have been widely condemned. In 2013, notorious “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International closed its doors, issuing an apology for the harm done by its programs. Since then, 20 U.S. states have banned the practice (for minors only, in some instances). But it is important to note that despite condemnation and refutation from all major medical, psychiatric, and psychological organizations, these harmful and abusive practices continue.”

Benjamin has said that for over a decade he’s run a “ministry” called Escape Hall, with “Hall” standing for “homosexual and lesbian living.” 

He has compared supposedly healing LGBTQ people to saving adulterers, thieves and murderers, stating: “When I’m dealing with someone in that lifestyle, it’s just like adultery. When I see a person who’s adulterous, I got to see them as somebody that God wants to save. When I see a thief or murderer like Apostle Paul was a murderer, God saw him as an apostle.”

Benjamin’s sermonizing about supposedly transforming LGBTQ people was on display during an Aug. 13, 2022, speech in New York for Clay Clark’s far-right ReAwaken America Tour. He devoted much of his time to telling LGBTQ people that they can be “healed” and “come out of homosexuality.” 

“You’re going to get delivered. You’re going to get healed,” Benjamin said. “I don’t care if it’s homosexuality, fornication, adultery, lesbianism. God says he’s going to touch you today. You going get this out of your spirit. You’re going get it out of your life. And God’s going to renew your mind. And you’re going to be transformed.” 

He later added: “The devil lied to you and I. He told you that you can change your sex, but he is a liar! … You got to come out of homosexuality! You got to come out of adultery! You got to come out of fornication! … I don’t care how long you’ve been a homosexual. I don’t care how long you’ve been a lesbian. The weight of the Holy Ghost is more powerful than any demon.” 

**********************

Eric Hananoki is an investigative reporter for Media Matters for America covering right-wing media and extremism.

  **********************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Virginia

Va. House subcommittees advance two anti-transgender bills

Senate Democrats have pledged to block any anti-LGBTQ measures

Published

on

Virginia Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Two anti-transgender bills advanced in the Virginia House of Delegates on Monday.

A House Education Subcommittee by a 5-3 margin voted to advance state Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun County)’s House Bill 2432, which Equality Virginia notes “would require public school personnel to contact a student’s parent if they believe that the student’s self-identified gender does not align with their ‘biological sex.'” The House Higher Education Subcommittee by a 6-4 margin advanced state Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach)’s House Bill 1387, which would ban transgender athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.

Both bills will now go before the full House Education Committee.

The House Early Childhood/Innovation Subcommittee last week voted unanimously to kill state Del. Jason Ballard (R-Giles County)’s House Bill 1434, which would have required trans students to obtain a court order to update their name in school records. The Senate Public Education Subcommittee on Jan. 26 also tabled three measures that would have banned trans athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Republicans currently control the House of Delegates by a 51-47 margin. Democrats, who have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, have said they will oppose any anti-LGBTQ measure that reaches their chamber.

Continue Reading

Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee tables three anti-transgender bills

Measures would have banned trans athletes from school teams

Published

on

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Thursday tabled three bills that would ban transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

The Senate Education and Health Committee’s Public Education Committee tabled state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Louisa County)’s Senate Bill 1186 and state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 962.

“We’re one step closer to these bills being gone for good,” said Equality Virginia in a tweet.

Continue Reading

Virginia

Va. House subcommittee kills anti-transgender bill

Committee members unanimously rejected HB 1434

Published

on

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Wednesday killed a bill that would have required transgender students to obtain a court order to update their name in school records.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the House Early Childhood/Innovation Subcommittee voted unanimously to kill state Del. Jason Ballard (R-Giles County)’s House Bill 1434.

“This bill served no educational purpose and was entirely unnecessary,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman in a statement. “LGBTQ+ students thrive when they are provided safe, affirming and supportive learning spaces, which includes allowing them to go by their chosen name without jumping through legal hoops.” 

“HB 1434 would have run counter to that by creating a hostile school environment,” added Rahaman. “By tabling this bill the subcommittee has sent a strong message that LGBTQ+ students belong in Virginia.” 

“Trans and nonbinary students should be able to go to school and be called by their chosen names, without fear of being outed,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after the vote.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular