Vermont has become the fifth state to ban the use of conversion therapy on patients younger than 18.
The overwhelming voice vote against the therapy that seeks to turn gay individuals into straight ones was enacted after a plea from gay legislator State Sen. Becca Balint of Windham County. She said that while being gay is still unacceptable in many families, “We’re not trying to interfere with you as a parent, but we have a vested interest in keeping kids emotionally whole.”
State Sen. Brian Campion, a Bennington Democrat, and sponsor of the legislation, said he wants every child in Vermont to feel the same support he received when he told his family he was gay. “We want to send the message that this is not a choice, that we’re here to help you, we’re here to support you, but we are not here to change who you are,” he said.
California, Oregon, New Jersey and Illinois, the District of Columbia and the city of Cincinnati have all banned conversion therapy for minors.
In a replay of a 2015 legislative battle in Colorado, the Republican-controlled House of Representative voted down a bill in April that would ban the practice after the measure had been passed by the Democratic-controlled state senate. In Iowa, the state senate again approved a bill to ban conversion therapy, but is predicted to meet defeat in the lower house.
Also in Iowa, the state’s Board of Medicine rejected a request to ban conversion therapy for minors by licensed medical practitioners, but did agree to appoint a study panel to research the topic to determine whether to consider implementing a rule at a future date.
David Sickelka, senior pastor at the Urbandale United Church of Christ, told the board, “If parents want an approach that stresses damnation and fear and shame, then I suppose there will always be those who stand ready to offer that – for a fee.”
At the national level, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of California has introduced legislation seeking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the practice under consumer protection laws.