Last week Colorado became the 18th U.S. state to outlaw so-called “conversion therapy” — a scientifically discredited practice that attempts to “cure” people of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado’s openly gay governor, also signed a bill that will make it easier for transgender people to get state-issued ID and other documents that correctly reflects their gender identity.
In North Carolina, the Mental Health Protection Act, was filed in March. It would outlaw converstion therapy, part of a rapidly growing national movement. Despite polls showing overwhelming bipartisan support for the ban, it faced stiff opposition from religious groups and conservative Republicans and did not receive a hearing in this legislative session. No such bill has yet been passed in any state in the Southeast.
The Colorado bill didn’t happen overnight, either. A bill outlawing conversion therapy was filed five times before finally being passed and signed into law this year.
When North Carolina’s bill was introduced back in March, Sen. Terry van Duyn (D-Buncombe) said Democratic lawmakers know they face opposition from religious groups and their Republican colleagues – but these bills can be the beginning of a conversation that may change minds.
“We’re seeing attitudes change across the state,” van Duyn said. “Sometimes it takes legislators a little while to catch up with the people they represent.”