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Maine Is 17th State to Ban Use of Conversion Therapy on Minors

Janet Mills with Mary Bonauto and young Mainers

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill to that effect into law today, and Colorado is poised to become the 18th Friday.

Above: Gov. Janet Mills (in bright blue, center left) and Mary Bonauto (center right) with young Mainers.

Maine today became the 17th U.S. state to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors, with Gov. Janet Mills signing the ban into law.

"By signing this bill into law today, we send an unequivocal message to young LGBTQ people in Maine and across the country: We stand with you, we support you, and we will always defend your right to be who you are," Mills said, according to Portland TV station WMTW. The law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns; the adjournment date is the third Wednesday in June.

The bill prohibits state-licensed professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. Major medical and mental health professionals have denounced the practice as ineffective and harmful.

Maine's previous governor, far-right Republican Paul LePage, had vetoed a similar bill last year, but Mills, a Democrat, said she was happy to sign the legislation. Both houses of the legislature approved it this month.

Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and a Maine resident who assisted in drafting and preparing the hearings on the bill, issued a statement of praise. "Our goal should be to ensure that all youth in Maine are supported and have the opportunity to thrive," she said. "This legislation will go a long way toward creating that reality."

Colorado is soon to become the 18th state to ban use of the conversion therapy on minors. Gov. Jared Polis plans to sign a bill to that effect into law Friday, Denver TV station KMGH reports. The Colorado House had passed the bill in February and the Senate in March, but as the Senate had slightly amended some language, it had to go back to the House before Polis could sign it.

Polis, the first out gay man to be elected governor of any state, also plans to sign a bill Friday that will make it easier for transgender people to obtain a birth certificate reflecting their true gender. It eliminates the requirement for a court order to do so and allows applicants to simply present a statement from a physician or mental health professional. It further allows them to obtain a new birth certificate, not an amended one as under the previous law.

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