AUGUSTA, Maine, July 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Defying pressure from pro-homosexual politicians and activists, Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation on Friday that would have banned therapists from helping minors overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
Sometimes called “conversion therapy” or reparative therapy, the left and the LGBT movement have made banning it a priority.
LD 912 sought to forbid people from “advertis[ing], offer[ing] or administer[ing] conversion therapy to individuals under 18 years of age,” with “conversion therapy” defined as “practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity.” It contained an exception for clergy, but threatened to suspend or revoke the licenses of medical professionals, school guidance counselors, or school psychologists.
“This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual's own request,” LePage said of the bill in his veto message. Calling it “bad public policy” that potentially threatened religious liberty, he noted that its language of “any practice or course of treatment” on the subject could “call into question a simple conversation.”
LePage went on to note that state law already prohibits any practices that would amount to physical or mental abuse, and that the bill’s supporters had failed to produce any evidence that conversion therapy was being practiced in Maine anyway.
The governor also accused ban advocates of hypocrisy for opposing previous legislation to criminalize female genital mutilation, which is already prohibited under federal law yet supporters argued was still happening in Maine.
“Legislators who could not stand up and outlaw the permanent mutilation of young girls’ sexual organs by laypersons in unsanitary conditions with razor blades now are concerned with outlawing conversations, of which there is also ‘no evidence’ that it is happening in Maine,” LePage summarized. “That is a disgusting double-standard.”
In response, the state Democratic Party declared that conversion therapy “has no place in our society,” while Matt Moonen of the LGBT lobbying group Equality Maine denounced LePage for allegedly choosing “petty politics over protecting kids.”
“With this inexcusable decision, Governor LePage has become the only governor in the nation to veto legislation protecting young people from this abuse, solidifying his place in history’s hall of shame,” Human Rights Campaign national field director Marty Rouse complained.
Reparative therapy is intensely controversial in large part because it challenges the notion that sexual attraction is biologically rooted and unchangeable, with detractors characterizing it as discredited “junk science.” But many former homosexuals have attested that they benefited from the treatment.
David Pickup, a former patient of the late reparative therapy pioneer Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, says that he grew up as a “sensitive boy” who was “defensively detached” from his father, as well as sexually molested. As such, he was “set up for homosexuality” and attributes his former same-sex urges to a sense of “gender identity inferiority.” But with therapy, he was able to raise his self-esteem as a man and satisfy his “male emotional needs” that were lacking in his relationship with his father.
“My same-sex attractions automatically, spontaneously […] through this therapy began to lessen and dissipate,” Pickup explains. “So reparative therapy really worked for me. It helped save my life.”
As for gender confusion, studies indicate that between 80 percent and 90 percent of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence. Experts such as the American College of Pediatricians’ Dr. Michelle Cretella warn that reinforcing such confusion instead of addressing it “temporarily mutes the impact of significant underlying emotional and psychological problems that are ultimately causing the gender dysphoria in the first place.”
Studies have found evidence of significant emotional problems among the transgender population, even among those whose confusion is affirmed by others and acted upon.
Last fall, the University of Cambridge’s Stonewall report found that 96 percent of transgendered students in Scotland attempted self-harm through actions such as cutting themselves, and 40 percent attempted suicide. Forty percent in the United States have attempted suicide, as well, according to a 2016 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). According to a 2011 study out of Sweden, transgender people remain 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, even after sex-reassignment surgery.
Had the legislation succeeded, Maine would have become the fourteenth state (along with the District of Columbia) to ban reparative therapy. The bill passed 19-12 in the state Senate and 80-55 in the House. The GOP holds a 18-17 Senate majority and the Democrats a 74-70 House majority, with six independents in the latter chamber. A two-thirds vote in each chamber would be necessary to override LePage’s veto.