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Nobody Votes Against Conversion Therapy Ban in Massachusetts Senate

March 29, 2019

The Massachusetts Senate has passed a version of a conversion therapy ban, 34-0.

Five Republicans voted “present” rather than either yes or no, because they oppose conversion therapy for minors but believe the bill “provides too much room for interpretation in an area that requires caution and precision,” said state Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth), according to State House News Service.

Republican state Senators Bruce Tarr of Gloucester (the minority leader), Ryan Fattman of Sutton, Donald Humason of Westfield, Dean Tran of Fitchburg, and deMacedo all voted “present,” according to State House News Service.

The sixth Republican, state Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth), voted yes.

All Democrats who voted on the bill voted yes.

The Senate passed a technical amendment, so the Senate bill will have to be reconciled with the House version of the bill before the legislation goes to Governor Charlie Baker.

Opponents of the measure say, among other things, that the bill would unconstitutionally restrict the free speech of therapists, because it threatens them with losing their license to practice if they engage in techniques designed to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of patients 17 of younger.

Tarr put forward an amendment that would have asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for an advisory opinion on the bill. It failed on a straight-party-line vote, 6-32. (O’Connor voted for Tarr’s amendment.)

State Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said the bill passes constitutional muster.

“We are confident that the pending bill is constitutional,” Lovely said, according to State House News Service. “It relies on well-established authority of the state to regulate professional conduct.”

Opponents of the bill are trying to lobby Governor Baker to veto it. On March 7 he said he is “inclined to support” banning conversion therapy, but hasn’t committed himself either way.

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