Outrageous: Maine’s Governor Vetoes Gay ‘Cure’ Ban

Maine’s Republican governor has vetoed a vital ban on anti-gay conversion therapy, saying that it is a “bad public policy” that raises religious freedom issues.

After a tough battle in the legislature, Maine looked set to join 13 other states in using legislation known in this case as LD 912 to ban harmful conversion attempts perpetrated against sexual minority youth. As Patheos points out, this legislation has proved to be a non-partisan subject with several Republican governors signing the legislation without qualms, including  Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois and Governor Susana Martinez  of New Mexico.

All of those administrations have seen the evidence that says not only is gay cure therapy unscientific and ineffective, there are manifest harms associated with the practice, including increased risk of mental health problems and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage didn’t get the memo.

Citing religious freedom issues, LePage said that the ban is “bad public policy” that infringes on parents’ rights.

LePage contends that he is wholly supportive of therapists following the guidelines and not subjecting any minor to practices that would be detrimental to their health. Read between the lines, though, and it is clear that he feels conversion therapy is not such a practice.

“I am vetoing LD 912 because it is bad public policy… [The ban] is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counselling an individual even at the individual’s own request,” he said in the veto statement. “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?’”

LePage goes on to say, “parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do no oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs.”

Needless to say, there are several errors of judgement here. Parents do not have a right to subject their children to dangerous, non-scientific practices to try (and fail) to change what is medically recognized as a healthy expression of human sexuality.

Furthermore, licensed professionals have to follow guidelines relating to standards of care.

The correct and established protocol for treating someone with anxiety, depression or unease surrounding their sexuality is to affirm them in that sexuality and instead look to the ways in which they might deal with the supposed disconnect between religious belief (if that is the driver of these feelings) and their experience of their innate identity.

Medical guidelines do not bend to religious belief, and while LePage says that treatment shouldn’t “take the form of mental or physical abuse,” that is precisely what counseling someone against following their sexuality adds up to for most people. 

To put it bluntly, LePage is carving out a so-called religious exemption to the government and health sector’s duty of care to LGBT children. That is as astounding as it is completely out of step with the general public who poll overwhelmingly against “gay cure” attempts.

The Human Rights Campaign has come out in the strongest terms against this move, with Marty Rouse, HRC National Field Director, saying in a statement, “Governor LePage’s shameful decision to veto this life-saving legislation leaves Maine’s LGBTQ youth at risk of being subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse.”

“With this inexcusable decision, Governor LePage has become the only governor in the nation to veto legislation protecting young people from this abuse, solidifying his place in history’s hall of shame,” Rouse goes on to say. “HRC calls on the Maine legislature to override this veto and to demonstrate to the state’s LGBTQ youth that their lives and well-being are worth protecting.”

This veto sends the legislation back to lawmakers.

The Legislature does have the power to override a veto, but because lawmakers were so divided on this legislation (a 19-12 vote in the Senate and an 80-55 vote in the House), it is unlikely they have the appetite to muster the two-thirds majority required for such an effort. 

At least, not without serious public outcry, and that is where we come in.

Take Action!

Call on the Maine legislature to vote through the conversion therapy ban and help safeguard vulnerable LGBT youth from dangerous and entirely unnecessary sexual orientation change efforts. Sign the petition now!

Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? You, too, can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

66 comments

Lorrie O
Lorrie Oabout a month ago

Conversion is conversion from the Mother Mary word to the Goddess word, to Goddess, and to the Goddess word God word, to God, and from the Heavenly Father, Heav e n ly Fat her, Heav e ("Heavy") and fat 24 word, to the enlightenment, light 24 word, lightweight light, enlightenment word.

SEND
Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Frances G
Frances G7 months ago

Signed. Thank you.

SEND
Dave f
Past Member 7 months ago

The world is full people that talk bullshit , leave the people alone to live as they wish .

SEND
Joan E
Joan E7 months ago

Outrageous, unfair, bigoted and wrong.

SEND
Thomas M
Past Member 7 months ago

Signed, of course.

SEND
Carol C
Carol C8 months ago

Petition signed. Hope that Maine will someday soon elect a more educated, less prejudiced governor.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Catrin Schuetz-Kroehler

Once again, where is the separation from church and state? Let everyone be the way they are.

SEND