On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made an important announcement: gay conversion therapy, a dubious practice that claims to have the power to change a young person’s sexual or gender orientation, will not be covered by insurance companies, including Medicaid.
“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Cuomo, who later spoke at the Human Right Campaign gala in New York. “We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”
In addition to Washington, D.C., four states have already outlawed conversion therapy for minors: California, Illinois, Oregon, and New Jersey. In December, New Jersey-based JONAH, a gay conversion therapy organization, was ordered to shut down after a judge found the company guilty of fraud.
But elsewhere in the United States, like in Oklahoma, the law is headed in the opposite direction—the way opposite direction.
Slate has outlined three new bills that are bonkers. One bill seeks to reinforce gay conversion therapy. Another does not help depressed or suicidal youth from being able to seek identity-affirming therapy.
The bill states that no public school “counselor, therapist, social worker, administrator, teacher or other individual” can “refer a student under the age of eighteen” to any “individual, organization or entity” if the referral “pertain[s] to human sexuality.” In fact, public school counselors can’t even “provide the contact information, business card, brochure or other informational materials” of a gay-friendly organization to students.
Both of these bills were sponsored by Rep. Sally Kern (click link for her phone number and email; she is, in fact, a public representative).
A third bill would ensure that a person or persons with a “communicable or infectious disease” will not be able to receive a marriage license.
Oh, and in Michigan, sodomy is a felony punishable by 15 years in prison.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.