Two states, California and New Jersey, and Washington, District of Columbia, have enacted legislation banning so-called “gay conversion therapy” for anyone under the age of 18. The White House recently responded to the “Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban All LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy” petition, which garnered 120,958 signatures, clearing the 100,00 in 30 days requirement.
The President’s statement:
“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us — on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”
The White House website went on to say:
Conversion therapy generally refers to any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.
When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.
As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.
Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, and Virginia recently defeated similar bills, leaving it possible for parents to force a minor into therapy that professional medical associations have declared “neither medically nor ethically appropriate” and which “can cause substantial harm”.
Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Texas all have bills pending to ban the practice. Many are bottled up in committee or by other parliamentary procedures, and are in various stages of the legislative process. In most places, Republican lawmakers are solidly against the bans, while Democrats tend to support them.
Throughout the United States, it is still perfectly legal for an adult who wishes to attempt “conversion” to undergo therapy, assuming he can find a licensed (or one of the many religiously based, non-licensed) practitioner(s) willing to take his money and ignore the consensus of the medical establishment. Many former “ex-gays” are now admitting change never happened for them, even after attending conversion therapy programs, some lasting years. Those that ran those programs are also admitting they were ineffective, and have closed. (I’m using male pronouns because most “conversion therapy” has been directed at men. The only reason I can come up with as to why that is so is that women are generally too smart to fall for such nonsense.)
President Obama has been a leader in LGBTQ politics, even if the community (and his Vice-President) has had to prod him from time to time. We have seen rapid gains in the struggle since his comments supporting marriage equality, and perhaps we’ll see similar advancements in the “conversion” issue with this action.