Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill Friday to prohibit state-licensed counselors and therapists from engaging in “conversion therapy” aimed at changing an underage client’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill would allow the state to deny or revoke a professional license to medical or mental health professionals who engage in conversion therapy of minors.
The bill defines conversion therapy as “any practice or course of treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, any effort to change gender expression or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.” In his veto message, LePage called the bill “bad public policy” because the broad definition could prevent professionals from answering clients’ questions or having conversations with them.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ryan Fecteau,who is gay, sponsored the bill after he said an administrator at the Catholic university he graduated from in 2014 urged him to seek similar therapy. The Legislature will need to muster two-thirds votes in both chambers to overturn the veto. The conversion therapy bill failed to win two-thirds support in either chamber in earlier votes.
LePage will be term-limited out of office in November.