Illinois becomes 4th state (plus DC) to ban ex-gay conversion therapy for minors

Yesterday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to “treat” homosexuality in minors with ex-gay conversion therapy. From the Washington Blade:

The bill, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) in the Illinois House, will bar licensed medical professionals from changing a minor’s sexual orientation and gender identity through conversion therapy — a practice discredited by major medical and psychological groups. The legislation takes effect Jan. 1.

Illinois is now the fourth state (not including DC, which should totally be a state), to ban ex-gay therapy for minors, following California, Oregon and New Jersey. Rauner becomes the second Republican governor to sign such a bill into law, following Chris Christie, a fact that wasn’t lost on the Religious Right in the wake of the bill’s passage:

A federal ban on ex-gay therapy — which has the support of President Obama — is currently idling in the House. Similar bills banning the practice are also making their way through several states.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, via Wikimedia Commons

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, via Wikimedia Commons

Given how abusive and widely-discredited the practice is, it’s likely we’ll see more state-level bans becoming law in the near future, particularly in states with Democratic legislatures. While Illinois and New Jersey passed such bans with Republican governors, the legislatures that produced majorities for those bills were controlled by Democrats. Similar efforts to pass bans on ex-gay conversion therapy in other presidential-year blue states with Republican governors, such as Michigan, have thus far been stalled by Republican representatives.

This makes it unlikely that a federal ban will go into effect in the near future. Republicans control the House, and almost certainly will until at least the next Census, if not longer. And those Republicans, who don’t individually bear the responsibility for vetoing a bill banning child abuse, can stall, block, demur, garble on about religious liberty and prevent these bills from becoming law where they have control.

In any case, this is great news for Illinois, and a feather in the cap of Rauner, who also signed a bill yesterday allowing individuals to specify their gender identity in legally-binding funeral and burial instructions. According to the Blade, “Such instructions may include — but aren’t limited to — appearance, chosen name, and preferred pronouns.”


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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