Thanks to their embarrassing governor Paul LePage, Maine just became the first state to reject an end to ex-gay abuse.
One by one, states across the country have been passing bills to prevent the abuse of minors in so called “ex-gay” treatment. Experts unanimously agree that there is no scientific basis for attempts to manipulate a person’s sexual orientation; and that “pray away the gay” efforts are actually dangerous and cause lasting harm.
Every major medical organization in America has spoken out against ex-gay abuse, whether it happens in one-on-one sessions with self-taught and self-described “therapists,” or in torturous residential camps where kids are subjected to harmful and exploitative practices.
So how did Maine become the first state to buck this trend? Blame their terrible governor, Paul LePage, who was named “America’s craziest governor” after he left a rambling voicemail accusing a colleague of being a “cocksucker.” LePage has also called for a return to beheadings, pushed to legalize toxic chemicals in food containers and claimed that immigrants gave Americans HIV.
But Paul LePage called it “bad public policy” to protect children from those who would prey on them with dangerous faith-healing techniques. He claimed that it would infringe on the religious liberty of abusers. To be fair, that’s true in cases where a person’s faith calls upon them to hurt children.
LePage also claimed that there simply was no ex-gay treatment happening in Maine — in which case his claim that it would infringe on anyone’s religious liberty gets a bit weak.
“We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own,” he wrote in a confusing, rambling statement that also called on legislators to legalize overnight child labor.
Following LePage’s veto, Representatives rallied to attempt an override, but Republicans blocked the effort.
Although LePage is a Republican, various other GOP governors have relented and signed similar bills despite their party’s ongoing anti-gay stance. Chris Christie, Bruce Rauner, Larry Hogan, Chris Sununu and more have all agreed to ban the practice in their states.
While Maine digs in on the issue, other states are taking the lead on ending the practice for good. A pending bill in California would outlaw ex-gay abuse for all people, not just minors. Known as AB 2943, it would ban all “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” is illegal under the state’s consumer fraud law.
But anti-gay extremists are fighting back. Hate groups like the Family Research Council continues to lie about the practice, with senior grifter Tony Perkins claiming that “it does work.” (It doesn’t.)
The California legislature reconvened this month after a summer recess, and could vote on the bill any day now. With any luck, they’ll take strides towards protecting marginalized queer people for good — even while on the other side of the country, Maine leaves its most vulnerable citizens open to abuse.
Does your state have a Paul LePage of its own?
Featured image by Robert F. Bukaty via AP