Maine’s Governor Vetoes Conversion Therapy Ban on Grounds of “Religious Liberty” July 8, 2018

Maine’s Governor Vetoes Conversion Therapy Ban on Grounds of “Religious Liberty”

13 states have banned gay “conversion therapy” for minors on the basis that its unscientific, doesn’t work, and can be considered a form of torture.

6 of those states had Republican governors sign the bill: Chris Christie (NJ), Bruce Rauner (IL), Susana Martinez (NM), Brian Sandoval (NV), Larry Hogan (MD), and Chris Sununu (NH).

Maine’s Paul LePage won’t join that list. On Friday, he vetoed a bill to ban the practice in his state, calling it “bad public policy.”

This bill attempts to regulate professionals who already have a defined scope of practice and standard of care per their statutory licensing requirements… This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request. We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own personal and basic questions such as, “How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing?”

I also have grave concerns that LD 912 can be interpreted as a threat to an individual’s religious liberty

LePage also claimed the bill was unnecessary because there’s “no evidence… conversion therapy is being used by anyone, including licensed professionals,” in the state. And yet his veto sends the signal that anyone who wants to offer it can do so without punishment.

His reasoning, as usual, is flawed and will only serve to harm children in his state. Not a single credible mental health organization endorses conversion therapy and many have said it’s flat-out harmful. As one LGBTQ advocate put it, LePage’s veto put “petty politics over protecting kids.” He may think it’s a “religious liberty” issue, but he doesn’t consider how children also have a right not to be punished for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Two-thirds of both legislative chambers would have to support the bill in order to override the veto, and this particular bill didn’t have that support before it went to LePage’s desk, so it’s not likely to pass this year. That means more children may be subject to this faith-based cruelty that assumes being gay or transgender is something that needs to be corrected — or, at the very least, suppressed or switched off. That’s not how it works. Experts know that. Paul LePage does not.

He won’t be running again this November, but let’s hope voters in Maine use the opportunity to vote for a governor gives a damn about LGBTQ children. Though, really, anyone would be better than the guy they gave now.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

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