Anger as Governor of Maine vetoes law to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy

The Governor of Maine Paul LePage is facing anger from LGBT activists after he vetoed a law that would have outlawed gay ‘cure’ therapy for minors in the state.

Gay ‘cure’ therapy is still legal in more than 30 states despite being condemned by nearly every major medical, therapeutic and psychological body of note.

Maine lawmakers voted last month for bill which prohibits licensed medical and mental health practitioners from trying to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, the state’s pro-Trump Republican governor Paul LePage decided to block the law.

Maine Governor Paul LePage (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

In a statement LePage claimed the law was “a threat to an individual’s religious liberty”, following aggressive lobbying on the issue from anti-LGBT groups.

He claimed: “Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment for their children from professionals who do not oppose the parents’ own religious beliefs.

“No evidence has been presented during the many public meetings on this subject that indicates that conversion therapy is being used by anyone, including licensed professionals, in the State of Maine.”

He attacked the bill as an attempt  to regulate “the private, consultative conversations between a licensed provider and a client”, before drawing a bizarre comparison to a bill to outlaw female genital mutilation (FGM).

LePage has been condemned by LGBT groups.

Marty Rouse of the Human Rights Campaign said: “Governor LePage’s shameful decision to veto this life-saving legislation leaves Maine’s LGBTQ youth at risk of being subjected to a practice that amounts to nothing less than child abuse.

“These crucial protections are supported by a bipartisan majority, and have been signed into law in a growing number of other states by both Democratic and Republican governors — including by the Republican governor in neighbouring New Hampshire mere weeks ago.

“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.

“HRC calls on the Maine legislature to override this veto and to demonstrate to the state’s LGBTQ youth that their lives and well-being are worth protecting.”

Matt Moonen, Executive Director of EqualityMaine, said: “Government’s greatest responsibility is to protect its most vulnerable citizens, especially minors who may not be able to protect themselves.

“Governor LePage had the opportunity, in one of his final acts as governor, to make Maine a safer place for LGBTQ youth. Unfortunately, he chose petty politics over protecting kids.”

LePage is not running for re-election this year, but the Republican candidate Shawn Moody has been silent on the issue.

Democratic National Committee LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta said: “Governor LePage’s decision that could put the lives of LGBTQ children at risk is shameful, and where is Shawn Moody? Silent.

“With the clock ticking on his governorship, Governor LePage’s potential successors must speak out against his actions and stand up for LGBTQ families and kids.

“Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills has a strong record of supporting LGBTQ people, from joining attorneys general from across the country in support of ENDA to being among the first gubernatorial candidates to speak out against conversion therapy when she testified in favour of the bill vetoed by Governor LePage.

“While Mills has a proven record of fighting for the LGBTQ community, Moody is refusing to protect LGBTQ children. At a time when the Trump administration and LePage continue to roll back protections, Mainers deserve a governor who will fight for the state’s families by standing up for Maine values and fighting for an economy that works for everyone.”

The decision can only be overriden if two thirds of lawmakers vote in favour, a far higher threshold that will require a significant number of Republicans to back the law.

Meanwhile, anti-LGBT groups have celebrated the ruling.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council congratulated LePage for “putting his foot down [and] standing up to the activist bullies and their junk ‘research’ about the dangers of routine counseling.”