Maine governor Paul LePage (R) vetoed a bill that if passed, would have banned gay conversion therapy throughout the entire state. LePage vetoed the bill last Friday and described that it was a “threat to an individual’s religious liberty”. Many Mainers are disappointed with this verdict.
Governor LePage wrote in his veto message:
“This bill attempts to regulate professionals who already have a defined scope of practice and standard of care per their statutory licensing requirements. I strongly agree that young people should not be physically or mentally abused if they come out to their parents or guardians because they have experienced sexual or romantic attraction to an individual of the same gender. However, as it is written – ‘any practice or course of treatment’ – can call into question a simple conversation.”
Conversion therapy is banned in 13 states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, Illinois, and the District of Columbia. The law was signed in by Republican governors in 4 of these states.
Maine politicians have voiced their concerns. Ryan Fecteau, a Maine democratic member of the House of Representatives (who is gay), sponsored the bill. Fecteau explained that the Catholic university he graduated from tried to convince him to seek conversion therapy back in 2014.
Fecteau told the Press Herald that “the governor failed to recognize the federal prohibition against FGM. There is no federal prohibition on conversion therapy. And is there was one, this wouldn’t be a topic of a bill here in Maine”.
Many LQBTQ organizations were outraged.
Janson Wu, GLBTQ Legal Advocates, and Defenders executive director issued the following statement:
“Today’s heartless and dangerous action by Governor LePage leaves Maine’s youth at risk. There is a clear consensus in the professional medical and mental health community about the serious harms conversion therapy cause LGBTQ youth. Governor LePage had an opportunity to protect Maine youth from these harms, and to ensure parents are not misled into subjecting their children to an unsafe and ineffective so-called ‘treatment’. Instead, the governor has sent a signal that the risk of hurting LGBTQ youth is acceptable. Thirteen other states, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, have already banned to practice, including neighboring New Hampshire where Governor Sununu signed a bill just last month. This is not a partisan question. It’s about sending the message to LGBTQ youth that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are loved and valued as they are.”
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