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Minnesota governor to ban conversion therapy by executive order

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (Photo: US Gov)

Good news from Minnesota. The state’s Governor, Tim Walz (D) will today sign an Executive Order banning conversion therapy on minors. His move comes after the Republican-led Senate has repeatedly failed to pass legislation banning the practice.

The Governor’s office issued a press statement yesterday saying, “On Thursday, 15 July, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan will hold a signing ceremony Executive Order 21-25, a historic Executive Order protecting LGBTQ+ youth from the harmful practice of conversion therapy.”

Conversion therapy is the discredited practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity through psychotherapeutic means. It doesn’t work and usually does far more harm than good.

Some cities in Minnesota already ban the practice for minors, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.

Related: Virginia is first southern US state to ban conversion therapy on minors

The Senate has pushed back against attempts to pass a ban in both 2020 and 2019.

It emerged in 2019 that it was a deeply personal matter for GOP Senate Majority leader, Sen. Paul Gazelka, who is a conservative Christian. One of his children, Gemma, came out as a lesbian while a teenager. Gemma later identified as bi-gender and uses “they” pronouns. Gazelka told Star-Tribune he sent Gemma to a therapist when they were a teenager, but it was for “healing”, not “conversion.” Gemma recalls it differently, saying the therapist decried same-sex relations.

Gazelka said in 2019 that he struggled to find a compromise that protected young people at a vulnerable time in their lives but which also allowed therapists to talk freely with their clients. “I cry over this issue,” he said.

Since that time, lawmakers have continued to disagree on the issue, leading to Walz’s Executive Order.

Minnesota joins 20 other states in banning the practice on minors.

Next month, a new documentary on Netflix explores the so-called “ex-gay” movement and the damage inflicted by conversion therapy. Pray Away looks at the Exodus Movement, which ran from the late 1970s to 2013. Many of those involved with the movement have recanted their views and now live openly LGBTQ lives.

Related: New Netflix documentary explores horrific reality of conversion therapy