The Maine House on Thursday approved a
bill that seeks to ban therapies that attempt to alter the sexual
orientation or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
Such therapies go by names such as
“conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay
According to The
Portland Press Herald, the bill cleared the chamber with a
76-68 vote after a contentious and, at times, emotional debate.
The legislation was sponsored by
Representative Ryan Fecteau, an openly gay Democrat from Biddeford.
He told colleagues that he suffered
severe and long-lasting depression in college after a trusted
university administrator recommended he read a book encouraging
“I know there are young people who
are far more vulnerable than I was back then,” Fecteau said. “I
want to protect them from the harm that can come from a trusted
professional telling them, one way or another, that they are broken,
that the core truth of who they are is wrong and even disgusting.”
Representative Larry Lockman, a
Republican from Amherst, said that he opposed the legislation because
it would “shut down reality-based free speech.”
“The left-wing progressives who are
waging war on free speech in America … want to strip dissenters of
the ability to make a living,” Lockman said.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, cheered passage.
“No child should be subjected to this
dangerous practice with life-threatening consequences for countless
LGBTQ youth,” HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad said in a
statement. “For the sake of LGBTQ youth across the state, it’s
essential that fair-minded voices speak out now and call on their
state senators to pass this crucially important legislation. We urge
the Maine Senate to pass this measure and join the growing number of
states and municipalities that protect LGBTQ youth from the inhumane
and abusive practice of conversion therapy.”
The measure now heads to the Senate,
where it faces a steep incline. Additionally, Governor Paul LePage,
a Republican, is unlikely to sign the bill into law.
Similar legislation has been enacted in
Maryland, Washington, Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey,
Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, New Mexico and the
District of Columbia. An increasing number of local municipalities
have also enacted similar protections, particularly in Florida. Late
last month, Milwaukee
became the first municipality in Wisconsin to enact such a ban.