Why Is a Gay Council Speaker Killing a Ban on Conversion Therapy? – The New York Times

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It’s Friday.

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high in the upper 60s. The weekend should be pleasant but overcast, with a chance of showers tomorrow night.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Sept. 30 (Rosh Hashana).


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CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

Gay conversion therapy has been prohibited in New York City since 2017.

Surprisingly, the City Council speaker is killing a ban on it.

Corey Johnson, the gay, H.I.V.-positive speaker of the Council, told my colleague Jeffery C. Mays that the Council would “swiftly act to repeal” the ban.

Conversion therapy is the discredited practice of offering services aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the ban, those found to be engaging in the practice could be fined $1,000 for each violation.

The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit challenging New York City’s ban, saying it violated free speech and was “the first in the nation to censor speech” between counselors and adult patients.

So, Mr. Johnson and other elected officials, recognizing the conservative-leaning makeup of higher courts, decided to move to repeal the ban in a political chess move of sorts: They’re hoping to prevent the courts from protecting the practice.

“I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right-wing groups,” Mr. Johnson told Mr. Mays. “But the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, has become more conservative.”

The practice has been widely condemned. The American Psychological Association has said that it doesn’t work and that those who undergo it experience harm.

In January, the New York Legislature voted to bar mental health professionals from working to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The state law would govern the city in the absence of a city-specific ban.

Seventeen other states, Washington, D.C., and over 50 municipalities also prohibit the practice for minors, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Still, the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law estimates that almost 700,000 L.G.B.T.Q. adults ages 18 to 59 have received the therapy — 359,000 of them as adolescents.

State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the state’s only openly gay senator, said, “I’m heartened that the City Council pulled back a statute that could undermine efforts nationally.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom saw the retreat as admittance of an overstep.

“We went in with confidence that the courts would agree with us,” said Roger Brooks, a lawyer for the group. “This move by the city suggests that on mature consideration, they think that would be the outcome as well.”

Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.


The Police Department has an app for tipsters who want to send in photos or videos to help solve crimes. [Daily News]

Mayor de Blasio is reaching out to Brooklyn’s Jewish community to achieve the donor threshold necessary to appear on the presidential debate stage in October. [Jewish Insider]

What we’re watching: Ginia Bellafante, The Times’s “Big City” columnist, talks about police suicides and the Eric Garner case on “The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts.” The show airs tonight at 8, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. [CUNY TV]

Friday

The Museum of Broken Windows pop-up exhibit opens at Cooper Union in Manhattan. Noon-8 p.m. [Free]

“Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” screens at the Coney Island Film Festival in Brooklyn. 7:30 p.m. [$8]

Saturday

Explore over 30 vendors and artisans in a monthly market at the Brooklyn Museum Plaza. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. [Free]

The Brooklyn Brujeria festival has dancing, poetry, workshops and more at the Dumbo Archway in Brooklyn. 2-9 p.m. [Free]

Sunday

Attend Fig Fest and enjoy figs with local growers and other enthusiasts at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island. 4-8 p.m. [$5 suggested donation]

Head to Harlem for the African-American Day Parade. 1-6 p.m. [Free]

— Melissa Guerrero and Julia Carmel

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.


The Times’s Derek Norman writes:

The women worked New York’s strip clubs, but business slowed with the Great Recession.

To keep cash flowing, the high-end strippers scoured Manhattan for former patrons and other well-off men. They wined and dined them, lured them to the clubs and emptied their wallets. Eventually, they drugged the men and ran up their credit cards.

Then they got caught.

If this story sounds familiar, it might be that you read “The Hustlers at Scores,” Jessica Pressler’s 2015 article in New York magazine.

Today, “Hustlers,” the movie based on the article and starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, opens in theaters across the city. Julia Stiles, who like Ms. Lopez is a native New Yorker, plays a character based on Ms. Pressler.

It also is the film debut of Cardi B, a former stripper from the Bronx.

[Read The Times’s review of “Hustlers.”]

For the magazine, Ms. Pressler interviewed the two women who ran the scam.

Roselyn Keo was raised in Rockland County by her grandparents. The self-proclaimed brains behind the operation, Ms. Keo told Ms. Pressler, “It sounds so bad to say that we were, like, drugging people. But it was, like, normal.”

Her partner in crime was Samantha Barbash, a Bronx native. Ms. Barbash, known as Samantha Foxx, met Ms. Keo at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, where she had been a top-earning veteran. That status helped her recruit women to participate in the scheme.

The Times’s Melina Ryzik noted that “though the story dates back a decade, its themes — gender dynamics, economic inequality, sex, cash and female solidarity — resonate richly now.”

It’s Friday — get the popcorn ready.


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Dear Diary:

My friend Leslie, a retired teacher, invited me to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts one Saturday to watch a film of a Broadway musical.

I told her if it was being shown at the Theater on Film and Tape Archive, it was restricted to researchers and professionals.

I found the title in the online catalog, and verified that “all viewers must have a valid reason for viewing and a library card.” But Leslie insisted, and I agreed to meet.

Before entering the screening room, I stopped to quietly caution her.

“Volunteer no information,” I said. “Just make the request.”

Inside, she walked up to the desk.

“We want to check out ‘70, Girls, 70,’” she bellowed.

The librarian was taken aback. So was I. I had forgotten about Leslie’s hearing impairment.

The librarian asked her to keep her voice down. Researchers were viewing films over headphones just feet away.

“What is your purpose?” her asked.

“Recreational,” she said, just as loudly.

The librarian shook his head.

“Oh, no, no,” he said. “You must have a legitimate purpose.”

“I’m doing research,” Leslie said.

“What are you researching?”

“I’m writing a paper on the works of Kander and Webb.”

“I think you mean Kander and Ebb,” the librarian said.

We had no credentials. The librarian gave us a form and waived some of the formalities, as it was our first visit. He told us to bring them next time.

I had to shush Leslie during Olympia Dukakis’s performance as Ida Dobbs. She claims that I nodded off.

We ran out of time, so the librarian gave us a voucher for another viewing. It is still in my wallet. I am not sure I have the nerve to return.

She didn’t even have a library card.

— Paul Klenk


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