State lawmakers in Maine have approved a bill to ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors, but Gov. Paul LePage has not indicated whether he intends to sign it into law.
LePage, a Republican, has amassed a record that many LGBTQ groups characterize as hostile during his two terms in office. But he has not taken a position on this particular bill, which passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives by an 80-55 margin and the Republican-controlled Senate on a 19-12 vote.
If LePage decides to veto the bill, neither margin is sufficient to overturn a veto.
The bill would prohibit licensed therapists and counselors from attempting to administer therapies aimed at changing a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. If they break the law, they could face penalties or risk the loss of their license.
Proponents of the bill hailed legislative leaders for passing the bill, and urged LePage to sign it as soon as possible.
“This critically important legislation will help ensure children in Maine are not subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse,” HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse said in a statement. “It’s now imperative that fair-minded people across the state contact Governor LePage’s office and urge him to sign this bill protecting LGBTQ youth or allow it to become law.”
Rouse also noted that other Republican governors — in Nevada, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, and, most recently, in New Hampshire — have signed similar legislation, proving that it is not a partisan issue.
“We are pleased that both chambers of the legislature have finally passed these needed protections for LGBTQ youth in Maine,” Matt Moonen, the executive director of Equality Maine, said in a statement. “We call upon the governor not to veto this needed bill that can save lives.”