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Bill to Ban Conversion Therapy Passes in the House

After an emotionally-charged debate, the Maine House passed legislation Thursday that would ban what is called “conversion therapy” for minors. Conversion therapy involves treatments by state licensed professionals intended to change an individual's sexual orientation.

Supporters of the ban argued that the controversial therapy is not supported by science, and that national professional counseling groups have said it is unethical and can be harmful. Portland democrat Rep. Matt Moonen, an openly gay lawmaker, supported the bill.

“When we asked for equal access to the institution of marriage, they again said they sky would fall,” Moonen says. “But in reality, all that happened is a whole bunch more people were able to get married. And now they are saying the sky will fall if this bill passes. Well, the truth is it won’t. It has passed in ten other states."

Opponents argue that the legislation could be unconstitutional, and some cited religious arguments, even though the bill specifically exempts pastoral counseling from the ban.

Rep. Roger Reed, R-Carmel opposed the bill and called it “an attempt by the LGBT community to legitimize the unnatural inclinations.”

House Speaker Sara Gideon admonished Reed for his remarks, and, at several times during the debate, told members to calm down.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.