The bill, LD 912, would ban mental health professionals licensed by the state from practicing this therapy on minors.
“The bill is good public policy,” said Mary Bonauto, an attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “[And] the accurate interpretation of the bill is that the State does not have to license harmful practices and should not do so. Parents can teach the value they wish at home, but parental rights and belief do not extend so far as to force the state to allow state-licensed counselors to provide something that we know is harmful and ineffective.”
Unfortunately, while the legislators approved the bill, Governor Paul Lepage decided to veto it.
He described LD 912 as a "bad public policy," claiming it “attempts to regulate professionals who already have a defined scope of practice and standard of care,” and that the language of the bill’s phrasing “any practice or course of treatment” was ambiguous and could create difficult and confusing situations.
He said: “I also have grave concerns that LD 912 can be interpreted as a threat to an individual’s religious liberty. Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs.”
Governor Lepage felt that “no evidence has been presented during the many public meetings on this subject that indicates conversion therapy is being used by anyone, including licensed professionals, in the State of Maine … [W]hat we are really trying to regulate are the private, consultative conversations between a licensed provider and a client.”
In response, Marty Rouse, HRC national field director, said: “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.”
“These crucial protections are supported by a bipartisan majority, and have been signed into law in a growing number of other states by both Democratic and Republican governors—including by the Republican governor in neighboring New Hampshire,” he added.
Stephen Peters, senior national press secretary and spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, repeated how important mid-term elections on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 are. He encouraged voters to change the governor by a person who will protect young citizens.