The Maine House of Representatives on
Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that seeks to prohibit
therapies that attempt to alter the sexual orientation and gender
identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth.
Such therapies go by names such as
“conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “sexual
orientation change efforts” or “ex-gay therapy.”
According to the Press Herald,
Wednesday's vote was 91-46, with five Republicans and five
independents joining 81 Democrats to approve the bill. The bill now
heads to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.
The bill was introduced by
Representative Ryan Fecteau, an openly gay Democrat from Biddeford,
and Senator Linda Sanborn, a Democrat from Gorham.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, called on the Senate to
quickly take up and approve the bill.
“It is heartening to see the Maine
House of Representatives stand up for LGBTQ youth by passing this
critical legislation that will protect some of the most vulnerable
Mainers from an extremely damaging practice,” Xavier Persad, senior
legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a
statement. “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is a harmful,
debunked practice that has no place in Maine or anywhere else. We’re
grateful to Equality Maine and Rep. Ryan Fecteau for their leadership
in ensuring this bill passed through the House with strong bipartisan
support. Now, the Senate should act quickly to pass this legislation
and send it to the governor’s desk.”
Lawmakers approved a similar bill last
year, only to have it vetoed by former Governor Paul LePage, a
Republican who said that he had “grave” concerns that the measure
could be interpreted “as a threat to an individual's religious
An effort to override LePage's veto
Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, has
signaled her support for the legislation.
Fifteen states plus the District of
Columbia have similar laws. Colorado lawmakers recently approved a
similar bill and Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign it into
Rico governor signs order banning “ex-gay” therapy.)