Kim Davis’ lawyers are exploiting the story of a Pulse survivor who has come out as ex-gay to push their anti-LGBTQ agenda.
Luis Javier Ruiz claimed in a Facebook post earlier this week that he is no longer gay after surviving the 2016 attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, in which 49 people were killed. Ruiz wrote that he “should have been number 50” and credits his Christian faith for saving his life.
“Going through old pictures of the night of Pulse, I remember my struggles of perversion, heavy drinking to drown out everything and having promiscuous sex that led to HIV,” he said. “My struggles were real.”
“The enemy had its grip, and now God has taken me from that moment and has given me Christ,” Ruiz continued.
Liberty Counsel applauded the 34-year-old for allegedly leaving homosexuality. Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Florida-based legal group, claimed that Ruiz “has been set free” in a statement.
“In relationship with Jesus Christ, there is hope and forgiveness,” he said. “You become a new creation. The old has past and the new has come.”
“There is freedom and hope for all who believe,” Staver added.
In a surprising turn of events, the press release emailed to members of the media also includes comments from Ruiz himself about his journey to heterosexuality. He told Liberty Counsel that following the shooting, the Pulse survivor felt God speaking to him, saying: “Hey, I’m giving you another chance.”
“I feel there still is temptation, and some days are tougher than others, but I feel free from it,” Ruiz said. “I am not doing it on my ownI’m letting Christ guide me in that.”
Liberty Counsel, which represented Davis after the Rowan County, Ky. clerk was jailed for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, used the comments to promote an upcoming ex-gay event in the District of Columbia. Ruiz will be a guest speaker at the Freedom March this Saturday, which is scheduled to be held from noon to 3pm at the National Sylvan Center.
Billed as a “celebration of freedom from homosexuality and transgenderism,” the event is being organized by Voice for the Voiceless, a Christian group dedicated to “the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families.”
The Virginia-based organization has clarified it does not support conversion therapy. Co-Founder Christopher Doyle told NBC News the event is “about celebrating our lives and not hating the LGBTQ movement.”
Liberty Counsel, however, does support the discredited anti-gay practice. In fact, it’s one of the nation’s leading defenders of orientation change efforts.
The right-wing organization, which has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has fought against conversion therapy bans in California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
Liberty Counsel has claimed that prohibiting the treatment of homosexuality as a curable condition amounts to “religious discrimination,” as well as “an attempt to censor any viewpoint concerning scriptural teaching on human sexuality” and “an intense and coordinated effort to silence people of faith.”
At the time of writing, 10 states (and D.C.) have banned conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth, while Hawaii and Maryland are set to follow suit. Dozens of other municipalities have also passed ordinances outlawing the practice.
The right-wing group laments this growing movement as “one of the greatest assaults on Children and families that has risen in recent times.”
Nearly every leading U.S. medical association disagrees with Liberty Counsel, condemning conversion therapy as “harmful” and “ineffective” at its stated goal. These organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, Child Welfare League of America, National Education Association, Mental Health America, and Voice for Adoption.
Ruiz told Liberty Counsel that in coming out as ex-gay, his goal is to unite queer individuals and people of religious faith.
“I believe the time is now to bridge the gap that was broken between the church and the LBGTQ [sic] communityand without compromising the truth of Scripture, they can come as they are and allow the Holy Spirit to take care of that,” he claimed in the press release.
Photo via Ty Wright/Getty Images