Utah Rep. Karianne Lisonbee is back on Facebook after deleting her social media accounts amid a firestorm of criticism related to her past statements on LGBTQ issues.
Lisonbee, a Clearfield Republican, said she was the target of threats and vile attacks during the legislative session because of her support for diluting a proposed ban on the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy.
The bill, which would have barred licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identities of minors, was drastically rewritten by Lisonbee and several like-minded lawmakers. LGBTQ advocates said the new, weakened version would have done more harm than good for gay youth, and the bill ended up stalling for the remainder of the legislative session.
Around the same time, the Associated Press brought to light some Facebook posts that Lisonbee wrote several years ago about conversion therapy. In one 2013 comment, Lisonbee wondered whether it is “possible that living a homosexual lifestyle may cause individuals to choose to commit suicide?”
The remarks were widely condemned by LGBTQ groups and proponents of banning conversion therapy. Advocates, however, denounced any threats or personal attacks on Lisonbee.
But she wrote to her colleagues that “vile messages and posts” had forced her to shut down her social media accounts. She also rose during debate over the state’s hate crimes bill to speak about being targeted for her political beliefs, prompting colleagues to add protection for political expression to the legislation.
Her revived Facebook page is not open to the public, and she didn’t immediately return a call for comment about it.