Jul 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Minnesota governor signs order restricting conversion therapy

Picture of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) on Thursday signed an executive order significantly restricting the use of conversion therapy in the state.

Why it matters: There is no scientific evidence to support the use of conversion therapy, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which says the practice can instead lead to depression, anxiety and suicide.

  • At least 20 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have banned the controversial practice.

What they're saying: "We want you to be whoever you are, and that should seem like a pretty simple statement. The fact of the matter is, it’s not," Walz said, addressing the state's LGBTQ community.

  • "Our kids deserve to grow up in a state that values them for who they are – not one that tries to change them," he added.
  • "This Executive Order aims to protect young and vulnerable Minnesotans from the cruel and discredited practice of conversion therapy and affirms that the LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of One Minnesota."
  • "We call on our partners in the Legislature to move a comprehensive ban on conversion therapy across the finish line – but we will not wait to do what’s right."

Details: Walz's executive order restricts conversion therapy by directing the state Health and Commerce Departments to request declarations from health maintenance organizations and health plan companies that they do not cover conversion therapy.

  • It also requires the Health Department to report on the public health impacts of conversion therapy.
  • The state Human Rights Department will also investigate and pursue civil enforcement actions against health providers who engage in practices related to conversion therapy.
  • The Human Services Department is not allowed to pay for conversion therapy using state funds.

The big picture: Walz does not have the authority to fully ban the practice. That authority falls to the legislature. The GOP-controlled state Senate has pushed back on banning the practice, Axios' Torey Van Oot notes.

  • Republicans across the country object banning it because "it encroaches on religious freedom," Fox News writes.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about the order.

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