New Hampshire Speaker Casts Tie-Breaking Vote That Killed The State’s Gay Conversion Therapy Ban

“I want all children to be able to grow up without being told that they should not be who they are.”

In 2017, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Connecticut joined the growing list of states banning conversation therapy for minors.

Democrats in New Hampshire hoped to join their ranks, but two bans before lawmakers failed to pass by razor-thin margins this week. In fact, bills in both the House and Senate ended in ties, with House Speaker Gene Chandler stepping in to cast the deciding vote against each.

Most lawmakers voted along party lines, though Rep. Brian Stone, a Republican in Northwood called the widely discredited therapy “an unethical practice that causes long-term trauma to children… It is neither efficacious in science nor in practice.”

Other Republicans argued that the bill was unnecessary, as there’s no evidence anyone is practicing conversion therapy in New Hampshire. But Rep. Mark Pearson (R-Hampstead) insisted they should be allowed to do so.

“Now, I would be against coercive therapy, but what about those who want help from a professional?” Pearson told WMUR9 News. The two measures, he insisted, were “unnecessary at best, and quite possibly harmful to youngsters that want an honest conversation.”

Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, vehemently disagreed, claiming “[They] are telling children that who they are is not good enough.”

The Senate bill was introduced in February 2017 by Democrat State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, whose son is gay.

“I want all children to be able to grow up without being told that they should not be who they are,” said Clark at the time. “New Hampshire families have the right to expect that a licensed therapist will not put their children at risk of harm.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.