April 4, 2018 at 1:46 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Md. House of Delegates approves bill to ban conversion therapy for minors

Maryland State House, gay news, Washington Blade

The Maryland House of Delegates has approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in the state. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has indicated he supports the measure. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Maryland House of Delegates on Wednesday approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in the state.

Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1028 by a 95-27 vote margin.

State Del. Meagan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County) in a speech she gave before the vote said her parents sought conversion therapy for her after she told them she had fallen “in love with a girl” when she was a teenager.

“Fear of losing her family was too much that she ended her relationship after a year,” said Simonaire, without specifically referring to her. “She wondered what her family would do if she were true to herself.”

Simonaire said her parents were “heartbroken and disgusted by her devious actions” when she told them about her relationships. Simonaire added she “never had to endure conversion therapy” but the fact that her parents wanted to subject her to the widely discredited practice “was enough to cause significant pain, self-loathing and deep depression.”

The Maryland Senate on March 28 approved SB 1028, which state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced, by a 34-12 vote margin. State Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) introduced the measure in the House.

Simonaire’s father, state Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel County), was among those who voted against SB 1028 in the state Senate.

The Capital Gazette reported Bryan Simonaire said after his daughter’s speech on the House floor that his family did not seek conversion therapy for her after she told them about her same-sex relationship. The Capital Gazette also reported that Bryan Simonaire “loves” his daughter “and always will,” but does not agree with her “lifestyle.”

Maryland ‘has made a strong statement’

Cullison, who is among the openly LGBT members of the Maryland General Assembly, is among those who celebrated SB 1028’s passage.

“Maryland has made a strong statement that these young people are not broken — they are beautiful,” said Cullison in a statement that FreeState Justice, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, released after the vote. “We owe them our support and our protection under the law.”

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has indicated he supports the bill.

Eleven states and D.C. have banned so-called conversion therapy for minors.

Lawmakers in Virginia earlier this year tabled two bills that would have banned the widely discredited practice in their state. The New Hampshire House of Representatives in February approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy for minors.

“The Maryland General Assembly has chosen to protect our youth by joining the growing list of states banning conversion therapy,” said FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio after the vote. “These widely discredited and harmful practices have no place here. Governor Hogan’s signature on this legislation will send a message to LGBTQ youth across our state that they are perfect just the way they are.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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