Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine vetoed a proposed gay conversion therapy ban on July 6, preventing Maine from becoming the 14th state where such counseling is prohibited.
The legislation sought to ban individuals under the age of 18 from receiving gay conversion counseling. As a summary of the amended bill explains, the bill “provides that advertising, offering or administering conversion therapy to individuals under 18 years of age in the State is an unfair trade practice.”
An exception was included allowing members of the clergy to engage in conversion therapy.
LGBT activists were disappointed with LePage’s decision. The Bangor Daily News reported that Maine State Representative and executive director of EqualityMaine Matt Moonen said that LePage “chose petty politics over protecting kids.”
However, LePage defended his decision in his Friday veto announcement. LePage said he vetoed the bill “because it attempts to regulate professionals who already have a defined scope of practice and standard of care per their statutory licensing requirements.”
What’s more, the ban is far too broad, LePage said:
“This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual’s own request. We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own personal and basic questions such as, ‘How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing?’”
LePage also expressed “grave concerns that LD 912 can be interpreted as a threat to an individual’s religious liberty.” “Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs,” he said.
A statement by the Family Research Council (FRC) hailed LePage’s veto, stating, “Imagine being stuck in a cycle of depression or an unhealthy relationship and not being able to get help. Well, people in 13 states don't have to imagine it.”
“Fortunately, Governor Paul LePage (R) had other plans,” FRC said. “LePage became the first governor on either side to put his foot down. In a two-page veto announcement, the governor did what no others have had the courage to do: stood up to the activist bullies and their junk ‘research’ about the dangers of routine counseling.”