The South isn’t known for being progressive in terms of attitudes toward LGBTQ+ rights, yet Virginia just became the first Southern state to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy as applied to minors.
Gov. Ralph Northam (above), who has endured his own controversies, proved last month that Virginia really is for lovers when he supported a bill to protect LGBTQ+ folks from discrimination. Now, he has signed a bill that will finally ban conversion therapy, the dangerous process by which religious figures attempt to change the orientation of LGBTQ+ children.
In approving the bill, Northam referenced his roots as a doctor for kids.
The move in Virginia comes just over a month after Utah, a heavily Mormon state, banned the use of the bigoted and discredited practice on LGBTQ+ children, although Utah left a loophole for certain religious groups. Virginia is the 20th state to take such a step, but the first in the South.
“This issue is personal for me, as a pediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children,” Northam said in a statement. “Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
Virginia is actually in the process of passing a slew of bills aimed at bringing the state into the 21st century on LGBTQ+ rights. The bills have been blocked by Republicans for years, according to the Washington Post.
Many other landmark LGBT rights bills have also passed the House and Senate and are on their way to the governor this year, during the first session in a generation with Democrats in control of both legislative chambers.
Among the other bills is one that would make Virginia the first Southern state to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
With Republicans in control of at least one chamber for the past quarter-century, such legislation has been blocked in past years.
The landscape changed suddenly after Democrats flipped both chambers in November elections.
Elections matter. A vote for conservatives is a vote to ruin more LGBTQ+ lives. Virginia is taking an important stop here; now this abhorrent practice should be banned in every state.
(Screenshot via YouTube)