Minnesota Gov. Walz to Ban Conversion Therapy, Bypassing Legislature
(FOX News) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz will sign an executive order Thursday bypassing the state legislature and banning the controversial practice of “gay conversion therapy.”
Walz is expected to sign the order alongside Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan on Thursday morning in defiance of the Republican-held state senate, which doesn’t support the move, according to local media.
“Our kids deserve to grow up in a state that values them for who they are – not one that tries to change them,” said Governor Walz. “This Executive Order aims to protect young and vulnerable Minnesotans from the cruel and discredited practice of conversion therapy and affirms that the LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of One Minnesota. This is not the end of our work to see this practice become a thing of the past. We will continue to fight for love over hate every single day.”
Gay conversion therapy, which is typically intended to change the sexual orientation of homosexual individuals to heterosexual through intense therapy, has been banned for use with minors in at least 20 states.
The conversion therapy debate has been raging in Minnesota for over 14 years, and LGBT advocacy groups have long maintained that the practice is abusive, especially when minors are involved.
“There’s insufficient evidence to support the use of conversion therapy, and not only that, but that it leads to harmful effects in many cases, and those harmful effects are depression, anxiety, engagement in high-risk behavior, suicidal thoughts, feelings, and attempts, increased self-hatred, negative perceptions about same-sex attractions,” says Dr. Margaret Charmoli, a former president of the Minnesota Psychological Association. “So, there’s just a lot of bad things that come out of it.”
Many Republicans across the country, including in Minnesota, have objected to the ban, arguing that it encroaches on religious freedom.
Walz has been a vocal critic of the controversial practice over the last few months and promised last spring that it would come to an end in Minnesota at some point.
“The idea that this absolutely discredited, Byzantine, torturous way of telling our children they are not who they are has got to end and will end,” Walz said last year.
The Executive Order restricts the practice of conversion therapy in Minnesota by directing state agencies to take the following actions:
- The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce will request attestations from health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and health plan companies that they do not cover conversion therapy and pursue administrative remedies against HMOs and health plan companies that engage in unfair business practices related to conversion therapy. MDH and Commerce will also engage in rulemaking as necessary to restrict coverage of conversion therapy.
- MDH will prepare a report on the public health impacts of conversion therapy.
- The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) will not pay for conversion therapy services through Minnesota Health Care Programs such as Medicaid and will pursue recovery for payment for conversion therapy services.
- The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) will investigate and pursue civil enforcement actions against health care providers who are engaged in discriminatory practices related to conversion therapy.