Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has signed into law the bill banning “conversion therapy” for minors. He is the fifth Republican governor to sign such a bill.
Now that it’s too late to matter, I’m going to be contrarian and observe that even if one considers the exercise of “gay cure” therapy on kids as quackery deserving of scorn and condemnation (which is basically my view) there are reasons that might give pause not to legislate a ban. They include:
1) Some under-18 persons may seek this therapy of their own will and not all necessarily do so under pressure from the adults in their lives;
2) Legislatures may not be a good place to define and ban quack therapies compared with, say, expert professional bodies or courts hearing malpractice cases;
3) In Maryland, or so I am told, such practice is already defunct because of peer pressure and malpractice-risk scrutiny, even if it continues in some other states;
4) These laws have a momentum and before long legislatures may be asked to ban it even for consenting adults and from lay as opposed to licensed therapists, maybe even in do-it-yourself formats like kits or books (as critics say would be the effect of legislation in California);
5) Religion is special under the Constitution and this would not be the first time government might want to tread extra-carefully around quack therapeutic practices that are closely tied up with believers’ religious convictions;
6) While the failings of orientation-change therapy have been well aired for years, we might not be as far along in understanding the different issues presented by therapy in the area of gender expression. .
All of which helps explain persons I respect might come out on either side.