LAST NIGHT: In late evening vote, state Senate bans gay conversion therapy for minors
CONCORD -- A bill that would bar gay conversion therapy for minors in New Hampshire was passed late Thursday evening by the state Senate, hours after the measure appeared to be dead for the year.
The bill that passed the Republican dominated state House by a more than two-to-one margin was tabled in the GOP controlled upper chamber during the afternoon by a 13-11 vote, with all but one of the Senate Republicans voting to table the measure.
The bill that was defeated would have barred licensed counselors from engaging anyone under age 18 in the practice, which tries to alter someone's sexuality or gender identity.
But late Thursday, the Senate removed the measure from the table and passed an amended version. Six Republicans voted with chamber's ten Democrats on the final vote.
“Senate Democrats are very pleased that our Republican colleagues came to their senses and agreed to pass the conversion therapy ban.” Democratic Sen. Martha Fuller Clark said in a statement.
“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is aimed at young people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This harmful practice uses shame, rejection, and psychological abuse and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide," she added.
The measure that passed included penalties for licensed therapists who advertise or engage in conversion therapy.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, who had urged senators to pass the bill, put out a statement saying "I am proud that the New Hampshire State Senate was able to work together to pass this critical bill that will ban the harmful and scientifically unsound practice of conversion therapy on minors,”
“This bipartisan bill builds on our continued efforts to include and fully protect the rights of all of our citizens and sends the important message to our young people that they can be who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity," the governor added.
Major health organizations such as the American Psychological Association discredit gay conversion therapy and four states and the District of Columbia have banned the practice for those under 18.
Among the Republicans voting against the ban was Sen. Jeanie Forrester, who's running for governor. Late Thursday evening the New Hampshire Democratic Party criticized Forrester.
“That a candidate for governor would put her ideology before the wellbeing of her constituents is truly disturbing," NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement.