‘It was a hit list’: La Crosse Common Council member condemns local LGBTQ group for poster

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A La Crosse Common Council member is asking Mayor Mitch Reynolds to condemn a local LGBTQ group after it published a list of individuals who are against the city’s ban on conversion therapy.

The list, titled “Parents Beware,” tells parents to avoid certain doctors and pastors. Coulee Region Pride published the list, which was making the rounds on social media before it was removed.

The poster names individuals who wrote to Common Council members, urging members to vote no on the conversion therapy ban. Pastors Jerry and Nancy Hatlevig are two of the individuals on the list.

“The reason we speak up is because we care,” Nancy said. “We love people.”

The Hatlevigs, who are the lead pastors at Connect Church in Onalaska, said they chose to write letters to the council because they felt the ban violated their rights.

“It’s a violation of our first amendment rights,” Jerry said.

Council member Chris Woodard was made aware of the list by individuals in his community who felt they were being targeted for their beliefs.

“They didn’t feel like they needed to be intimated for sharing their opinions with the elected officials,” said Woodard, who represents the 9th District.

He considered the poster a “hit list.”

“Naming people on a poster, saying different things on the bottom lines about how they feel – more or less I felt like it was a hit list,” he said.

The Hatlevigs feel differently.

“We got on the honor roll, because we speak up for the truth of God’s word,” Nancy said.

The letters, which are considered public record, can be accessed by any person. In a statement sent to News 8, The Center: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection said it “does not operate with the Coulee Region Pride Facebook group” but said people have “the right to access and share public records as compiled by the City of La Crosse.”

The center says it “encourages” everyone to “seek out information made available on the city of La Crosse’s website about conversion therapy,” including “letters of support and opposition and provides great insight into the stances of many clergypersons, medical providers, mental health providers, business owners, and citizens of La Crosse. ”

“Everybody is entitled to look that up, but when you start publishing those names, I think that’s where the problem lies,” Woodard said.

He reached out to Reynolds, asking him to condemn the list.

“I think he needs to represent everyone and put an end to these intimidation tactics that the groups are putting on different citizens,” said Woodard.

Woodard said he received a statement from the mayor’s office.

“I did get a simple response that he didn’t agree with what I said, and that was it,” Woodard said.

Meanwhile, the Hatlevigs say everyone has freedom of speech.

“I don’t have to agree with everyone that gives me theirs and they don’t have to agree with me,” Jerry said. “But we don’t have to hate each other.”

They believe groups should be allowed to publish what they want.

Coulee Region Pride’s Facebook page was taken down Friday morning.

News 8 Now reached out to Reynolds. We were told he is unavailable for a comment.

The vote about the ban on conversion therapy is set to take place in less than two months.

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