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NH House Votes To Ban Conversion Therapy

NH House Dems pass conversion therapy ban, outlasting opposition from Republican Speaker & silence from Sununu

Concord, N.H. – Today, Democrats in the New Hampshire House led the effort to pass a ban on conversion therapy. The measure, HB 587, passed 179-171 with Democrats voting unanimously in support of the ban while 171 Republicans (90% of all Republicans voting on the bill) voted to continue the abusive practice. HB 587 now heads to the Senate for consideration. In two years of legislative consideration, Governor Sununu has yet to comment even once on the issue.

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Thanks to unanimous Democratic leadership, the House today rejected the abusive practice conversion therapy. This came in the face of opposition from Speaker Chandler and the New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut as well as complete silence from Governor Sununu. We are one step closer to ensuring that the state recognizes children for who they are rather than discouraging them from embracing their identity. We cannot continue to codify hate & intolerance. Equal protection under the law is critical to achieving full equality.”

Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted  to pass HB 587:

“Conversion therapy is a harmful and damaging practice which attempts to shame young people into changing their sexual orientation or identity.  This legislation simply forbids licensed practitioners from practicing conversion therapy on minor children.”

“I very much appreciate that the House listened to advocates and reversed its previous narrow vote to defeat this legislation.  Passing HB 587 into law will protect countless children from the shame, rejection, and psychological abuse that conversion therapy brings.  The House’s support today gives me great confidence that the legislature understands the urgent need to stop this practice on minor New Hampshire children.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, praised the New Hampshire House of Representatives for passing HB 587. HRC partnered with local LGBTQ advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Hampshire, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) to help pass the measure.

“We thank the state legislators who took a ​bold ​stand to protect LGBTQ youth from ​so-called ‘conversion therapy,​’​” said HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad. “This ​abusive and ​inhumane practice has no basis in science and is ​uniformly rejected by every major mental health ​organization in the country. ​Children across the Granite State deserve to live their lives authentically​, and they deserve to know that they are not broken or ill because of who they are. We are calling on the Senate to swiftly pass this bill and send it to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk for his signature.”

ACLU-NH Policy Director Jeanne Hruska said, “The ACLU-NH commends the NH House of Representatives for rallying behind HB587 and supporting a state ban on conversion therapy. Today’s votes represented a resounding show of support for LGBT youth. Conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective, and has no place in New Hampshire.”

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, and Arizona.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.

New Hampshire House Gets A Second Chance To Ban Conversion Therapy Saving Thousands Of LGBT Teens

New Reports Shows Tens Of Thousands Of Teens Subjected To Conversion Therapy
By The Time They Reach 18

On February 7th, the New Hampshire House will get another chance to do the right thing and ban “conversion therapy” in New Hampshire.  The bill, HB 587, first came up on January 9th, where Speaker Chandler voted to break the tie and kill the bill.  However, after the vote, Rep. Henry Parkhurst of Winchester called for a reconsideration vote.  Because Parkhurst voted in the majority, he can ask for a reconsideration vote, implying he has changed his mind and wants another chance to vote.

Previously, we have talked about the horrors of “conversion therapy” and laid out a number of reasons why it should be banned.

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is aimed at young people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark.  “This harmful practice uses shame, rejection, and psychological abuse and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide.”

“It is not therapy but child abuse that can lead to suicide; and should be illegal,” said Mo Baxley, Former Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom To Marry.

“Research suggests the treatment can worsen feelings of self-hatred and anxiety, because it encourages people to fight or hate a sexual orientation that can’t be changed [5 Surprising Facts About Gay Conversion Therapy],” wrote Tia Ghose for LiveScience.

This week, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law released a shocking new report that showed that 20,000 adolescents between 13 and 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before the age of 18.  Another 57,000 will undergo conversion therapy from a religious or spiritual advisor.

The researchers also found that approximately 698,000 LGBT adults in the U.S have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received it as adolescents.

“Many professional health associations and the public support ending the use of conversion therapy on LGBT youth,” said Christy Mallory, the state and local policy director at the Williams Institute and lead author of the study. “Our research shows that laws banning conversion therapy could protect tens of thousands of teens from what medical experts say is a harmful and ineffective practice.”

A number of prominent national professional health associations — including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others — have issued public statements opposing the use of conversion therapy and several have called on Congress and state legislatures to pass laws that ban the practice.

For more than a century, health care professionals and religious figures have used a range of techniques to attempt to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, talk therapy is the most commonly used therapy technique. However, some practitioners have also used “aversion treatments,” such as inducing nausea, vomiting, paralysis or applying electric shocks.

“With such a large number of teens at risk of conversion therapy,” said study author Kerith Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and research director at the Williams Institute, “we must ensure that families, faith communities and service providers have accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity and work to reduce stigma and promote acceptance of LGBT youth and their families.”

Lets hope that the New Hampshire House can get it right this time and ban this horrific practice, once and for all.

NH State Senate Passes Ban On Conversion Therapy

Last week, we posted a story about the horrors associated with “conversion therapy” and why it should be banned in New Hampshire (and throughout the country).  Today we have some good news: The New Hampshire Senate just passed SB224, a bill to ban “conversion therapy on minors under 18.”

“I applaud my Senate colleagues for taking this important step to eliminate this dangerous practice in New Hampshire. No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“All children should have the opportunity to grow up without being told that they should not be who they are. I commend my colleagues for their bipartisan passage of this bill to protect our children from the damaging effects of this practice,” Fuller Clark added. 

“As a young LGBTQ Granite Stater, it is unconscionable that it would be legal in this state for a child to be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or that they are somehow not normal,” said Brenna Connolly, a UNH Manchester student from Nashua. “Conversion therapy is a dangerous, discredited practice and is nothing more than sanctioned discrimination that does incredible physical and mental harm to LGBTQ children.” 

“While we are thankful that the Senate passed SB 224 today, we are calling on Governor Sununu to vocally support this bill and commit to signing it if it reaches his desk. Given the fact he nominated someone who has defended conversion therapy to be our new Education Commissioner, it is Governor Sununu’s responsibility to stand up and let all LGBTQ children know that he will protect them from dangerous practices like conversion therapy. Anything short will be unacceptable to our state’s proud tradition of advancing LGBTQ rights,” Connolly added.  

“Edelblut compared anti-LGBTQ counseling – and therefore, being gay or lesbian – to counseling to end a smoking, drinking, or drug addiction,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress, who released the video of Edelblut testifying against banning conversion therapy last year.  

Edelblut is not the only one who defends this type of child torture.  GOP State Senator Bob Giuda defended conversion therapy’s ability to “protect societal norms.” Senator Giuda once compared same-sex marriage to “bestiality.”

“Senator Giuda’s comments are horribly inhumane. Referring to gay children as ‘outside of the societal norm’ is precisely the reason they face bullying, physical harm, and question their own worth. This kind of thinking builds on the intolerance we saw in Washington this week as the Trump administration stripped away the trans rights enshrined into law during the Obama administration,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. 

“Fortunately, Sen. Giuda’s thinking isn’t in the majority. In a bipartisan fashion, the New Hampshire Senate stood up against the cruel practice of conversion therapy. We encourage the House to do the same and send this bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor Sununu has been silent on the issue of conversion therapy, and it’s time he make his position known,” added Buckley. 

Next the bill will move to the NH House where it will once again be debated before it is voted on.  Hopefully the House will follow the Senate’s bi-partisan support of this bill and ban conversion therapy for minors in NH.

End Child Abuse In The Name Of “Therapy”

‘The Plight of the Transgender’
Image by Rose Morelli, www.facebook.com/Rosemorelliphotography

This coming week the New Hampshire State Senate will debate and ultimately vote on a bill to prohibit “conversion therapy” to change a person’s gender presentation or identity for children under 18.

New Hampshire looks to join the five states and the District of Columbia that have already banned conversion therapy on minors.

“No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“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,” the Senator added.

“It is not therapy but child abuse that can lead to suicide; and should be illegal,” said Mo Baxley, Former Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom To Marry.

Conversion therapy is highly controversial due to the unproven tactics and the fact it has continually been deemed as ineffective.

“Research suggests the treatment can worsen feelings of self-hatred and anxiety, because it encourages people to fight or hate a sexual orientation that can’t be changed [5 Surprising Facts About Gay Conversion Therapy],” wrote Tia Ghose for LiveScience.

Ghose goes on to describe the practice of conversion therapy as “a method reminiscent of the one used in ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ In aversion therapy, gay people were exposed to a negative stimulus (such as being shocked, given nausea drugs or imagining such exposures) while viewing same-sex erotic material.”

Conversion Therapy has not been proven to “convert” people but is actually harmful to “patients.”

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry wrote in their 2012 study, Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents:

“Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”

“There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation,” stated the American Psychiatric Association in a 1997 study. They go on to say, “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

The Human Rights Coalition cites at least a dozen other organizations that show “conversion” or “reparative” therapy does not work and can cause more harm to young adults.

“People who have gone through conversion therapy face 8.9 times the rates of suicide ideation, face depression at 5.9 times the rate of their peers and are three times more likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk for sexually transmitted infections,” wrote Zach Stafford in the Guardian.

It is time to end this inhumane practice, especially on children. This bill will be heard in the NH Senate this Thursday, Feb 23rd. Contact your State Senator and tell them you want them to support SB 224, a ban on conversion therapy in NH.

NH Senate Democrats Introduce Four New Bills On A Variety Of Issues

This week, Democrats in the New Hampshire Senate introduced new legislation aimed at strengthening elections laws, expanding career and technical training centers, ending so-called conversion therapy, and fulling funding the state’s Alcohol Fund to provide critical resources to prevention and treatment centers.


Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) introduced SB 197, a bill to appropriate $500,000 to the Department of Justice to fund the enforcement of our public integrity laws. Senator Feltes released the following comments on the bill: 

“New Hampshire received a D rating from the Center for Public Integrity and the ranks 35th out of 50 states due to the lack of transparency and enforcement of our election laws, our lobbying laws, and our campaign finance and public disclosure laws. SB 197 takes a common sense step forward to equip the Department of Justice with the legal staff needed to effectively enforce our laws.”

Currently, the Attorney General’s office is funded to employ just one election law attorney, and only on a part time basis.


Senator David Watters (D-Dover) introduced SB 101 and SB 75, two bills relative to New Hampshire’s career and technical education centers. SB 101 changes the high school attendance requirement for enrolling in a career and technical education (CTE) program from two years to one year. SB 75 establishes a tax credit for donations to career and technical education centers. Senator Watters offered the following comments on the legislation:

“New Hampshire’s career and technical programs are an invaluable resource to our communities,” said Senator Watters, prime sponsor of the bills. “These programs help students take advantage of workforce opportunities in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, automotive repair, and building trades. SB 101 supports access for sophomores to attend CTEs so they can successfully complete programs in pre-engineering, manufacturing or licensed nursing assistance, to then take advantage of internships and work experiences as seniors. Students with this training are very attractive to businesses that are clamoring for the workforce to fill these jobs.”

“I’ve also proposed a tax credit for contributions to CTEs,” added Senator Watters. “We should do all that we can to support these institutions and I hope that my colleagues will give these bills their full consideration.” 


Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) introduced SB 224 before the Health and Human Services Committee to prohibit the practice of conversion therapy relative to sexual orientation for children younger than 18 years old. Senator Fuller Clark released the following comments on the bill:

“No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“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.” 

“I was very disappointed when legislation to end this practice failed to pass the legislature last year,” continued Senator Fuller Clark. “As a mother of a child who is gay, I want all children to be able to grow up without being told that they should not be who they are. And as elected officials, we have the responsibility to protect all New Hampshire children from dangerous practices like conversion therapy. New Hampshire families have the right to expect that a licensed therapist will not put their children at risk of harm. I strongly encourage my colleagues to support this bill for the best interests of our children.”


“Governor Sununu has called substance abuse the biggest issue that we must tackle as a state. I completely agree, and that’s why I’ve introduced legislation to fully fund the state’s Alcohol Fund,” said Senator Kahn, prime sponsor of SB 196. 

The Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund, authorized in 2000 and fully active by 2003, offers an innovative solution to the state’s need to fund substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. The original text of the law mandates that 5% of the gross profits from the sale of alcohol be dedicated to combating drug and alcohol problems in New Hampshire. Among the many critical services this fund was intended to support, a fully financed Alcohol Fund provides the resources for medication assisted treatment and withdrawal services, recovery support, and public awareness and education programs. 

Despite the original intent of the law, the Alcohol Fund only received its full appropriation once, in 2003. Since then, the fund’s formula has been amended to allocate just 1.7% of Liquor Commission revenue to addiction services despite the escalating epidemic of heroin and opioid misuse in the state. 

“SB 196 reinstates the original 5% formula so that the fund may finally operate as was originally intended. It is unfortunate that this forward-thinking legislation has never been given the chance to take full effect. I urge Governor Sununu and my colleagues in the Senate to seriously consider the merits of SB 196 to provide immediate and sustained support for our substance misuse and prevention programs. Where we invest our money is a direct reflection of our priorities, and our priorities ought to be with the people in New Hampshire who need care.”

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