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This week’s edition!

Governor’s Address: Democrats hold a double standard when it comes to protecting vulnerable youth

Last week I vetoed a controversial bill, LD 912, “An Act to Clarify the Scope of Practice of Certain Licensed Professionals Regarding Conversion Therapy.” I’d like to tell you why.

LD 912 defines conversion therapy as “any practice or course of treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including… any effort to change gender expression or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.” The bill prohibits the use of conversion therapy by licensed mental health personnel, licensed medical personnel, and many other licensed individuals.

LD 912 was overbroad and bad policy. It attempted to regulate professionals who already have a defined scope of practice and standard of care under Maine’s licensing laws.

Any abuse is already illegal, and I strongly agree that young people should not be physically or mentally abused if they come out to their parents or guardians because they have experienced sexual or romantic attraction toward an individual of the same gender.

However, as the bill was written – “any practice or course of treatment” – can call into question a simple conversation. This is so broad that licensed professionals would be prohibited from counseling an individual, even at the individual’s own request.

We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it through their own personal questions, like “How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing?”

The Democrats won’t let a 14-year-old start the workday before 7 a.m., but under this bill, a medical professional could not have open conversations with minors considering hormone therapy about the potential and irreversible effects of delaying puberty.

There are other issues. Per recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court, regulations on the content of clinical speech may violate the First Amendment. The bill could also be interpreted as a threat to an individual’s religious beliefs.

No evidence was presented during public hearings that indicates licensed professionals in our state are practicing conversion therapy as described in the bill.

Because their standard of practice already prohibits any therapy amounting to physical or mental abuse, what LD 912 attempts to regulate are private, consultative conversations with a client.

This session, my bill, LD 1904, to criminalize the cultural practice of the physical mutilation of young girls in Maine, addressed similar circumstances to this bill, but failed to pass on a party-line vote in the House.

My bill would ban “female genital mutilation,” a heinous procedure involving partial or total removal of female genitalia for cultural or religious reasons. The practitioner is often not a medical professional and the cutting doesn’t usually follow sterile guidelines.

These girls are mutilated for life, but are unlikely to report their parents or the cutters to law enforcement.

The Cumberland County District Attorney spoke in strong support of this bill, arguing that the state must send a message that this is not tolerated and allow the DAs to prosecute it here in our courts. Like murder and many other crimes, FGM is outlawed on the federal level, but we cannot rely on the overburdened federal justice system to prosecute parents.

Sadly, legislators who wouldn’t stand up and outlaw the permanent mutilation of young girls’ sexual organs with razor blades want to outlaw clinical conversations. This is a disgusting double-standard.

The sponsor of this bill recently tweeted: “Shame on the politicians who elect cowardice over courage.” I agree. Cowardice is bowing to political correctness and voting against banning FGM, as he did, along with the majority of House Democrats.

I thank the members of both parties who had the courage to support protecting our young girls.

I believe we should apply consistent standards when passing legislation to protect our vulnerable young people.

Thank you.

Paul LePage


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