Michigan Legislators Need Support for HB 5550, Urge Public to Contact House Health Policy Committee
Washington is now in the final stages of becoming the 10th state to outlaw gay conversion therapy on minors.
The Washington state Legislature voted 33-16 in favor of Bill 5722, which would ban licensed therapists from performing conversion therapy on patients under 18. Regulating such practices will, according to the bill, “protect the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including LGBT youth.”
Bill 5722 now sits in front of Washington governor Jay Inslee for final approval. If signed into action, Washington will join nine other U.S. states that have banned conversion therapy: New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Nevada.
Violators of the new bill could be faced with fines, license revocation or suspension. However, the bill reads that the act “may not be construed to apply to” non-licensed counselors acting under the auspices of a religious denomination, church or organization.
In Michigan, State Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a similar bill, House Bill 5550, on Feb. 8, which would also prohibit licensed professionals from conducting conversion therapy on minors. This marks the bill’s third reintroduction.
Supporters of 5550 introduced a Change.org petition which can be found online at gaybe.am/Aa to arraign a public hearing for the bill. The petition currently sits at 225 signatures, and is being regularly promoted through the Facebook page “Pass House Bill 5550 – Ban Conversion Therapy in Michigan.”
Oakland University professor and trans advocate Char Davenport is one such supporter of the petition. She said holding a public hearing would provide a platform to share stories of those who have been impacted by conversion therapy.
“We want to get these stories out there,” Davenport said. “We also think it would help educate the faith community, which is really, really important, because maybe they will understand that this is not how you love your children.”
In House Bill 5550, conversion therapy is defined as a means, practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A recent report by the Williams Institute — which can be found online at gaybe.am/0t — at UCLA School of Law estimates that 698,000 LGBT adults, including 350,000 adolescents, have undergone conversion therapy at some point.
State Rep. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said House Bill 5550 now sits in the House Health Policy Committee. He remains hopeful his colleagues will move forward with banning the practice, something he considers to be child abuse.
“The reality in Michigan is we have a very conservative legislature that by and large ignored the LGBTQ community,” Moss told BTL. “We don’t see a lot of movement on LGBTQ civil rights. I think these issues a black eye on Michigan — it’s a black eye that gay conversion therapy is something that can still be committed.”
Moss encourages opponents of conversion therapy to directly contact members of the House Health Policy Committee, including its chair Hank Vaupel.
Members of the community will continue protesting an alleged conversion therapy workshop held at Metro City Church. Those interested in attending upcoming demonstrations regarding conversion therapy can visit the Facebook page “Pass House Bill 5550 – Ban Conversion Therapy in Michigan.”