Currently, 14 U.S. states have legal bans against so-called ex-gay or conversion therapy, but the “blue wave” of Democratic wins during the mid-term elections could increase that number by four or more.
According to Into More, Colorado, New York, Maine and Massachusetts could all enact bans within the next year, as Democrats will fully control the governorship and legislative branches in three of the states.
In New York, Democrats won 35 of the state’s 63 Senate seats, allowing them to end a longstanding block of Republicans and “blue dog” Democrats who’ve killed all pro-LGBTQ legislation since 2011. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a largely symbolic executive order opposing conversion therapy in February 2016, so he’s likely to sign a full legislative ban once it reaches his desk.
In Colorado, Democrats won 19 of the state senate’s 35 seats, ending the Republican block that killed a conversion therapy ban just last April. Its newly elected gay governor, Jared Polis, would likely sign a ban.
In Maine, the newly elected Democrat governor, Janet Mills, criticized the state’s former governor, Republican Paul LePage, when he vetoed a conversion therapy bill last July. At the time, Mills stated, “Governor LePage should have signed this bill, but where he failed, I will not.”
And though Massachusetts elected a Republican governor, Democrats will control its House and Senate, allowing them to re-attempt a ban that narrowly failed in 2018. Let’s see if the governor signs it.
Most Americans support conversion therapy bans
More Americans have become aware of conversion therapy thanks to two recent films — The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased. Both movies depict young gay people forced into religious ex-gay programs.
Every major American psychological association calls these programs harmful and ineffective. A 2013 survey found that 84% of ex-gay survivors felt lasting shame and emotional harm as a result of undergoing conversion therapy.
Religious conservatives have tried to defend ex-gay therapy by calling it a form of “free speech” and “religious freedom.” But polling shows a majority of American oppose conversion therapy. The U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to hear cases challenging such bans as unconstitutional.