ACLU flips conversion therapy reversal into spring voter rally

Campaign tied to closely watched state Supreme Court election.

Updated: January 16, 2023 - 7:41pm

The ACLU of Wisconsin is seeking to use the Legislature’s most recent vote striking down conversion therapy to register voters, with an eye on this year's election for Supreme Court.

The primary is Feb. 21 and Election Day on April 4.

The American Medical Association, on its website, and GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality oppose "the use of reparative or conversion therapy for sexual orientation or gender identity." The Democratic Evers administration banned conversion therapy in 2020.

Evers' ban was blocked by a legislative committee then and again last week.

Republican lawmakers argue the Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board doesn’t have such power.

“We’re not here, specifically, to discuss the merits of any conversion therapy or any other type of therapy,” said Rep. Adam Meylon, R-Pewaukee. “We believe it is a question for the Legislature, as it is a question of public policy and deals with speech issues.”

The ACLU condemned the vote, and said Republicans are putting LGBTQ+ children at risk.

“Conversion therapy is widely discredited as a counterproductive and cruel practice that subjects people to immense physical, emotional, and psychological harm. It is outlawed for minors in states throughout the country and in 14 cities in Wisconsin. The politicians working to allow conversion therapy are only endangering the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. Conversion therapy has no place anywhere in our state,” the ACLU said in a statement.

According to the AMA website and several published reports, at least 20 states ban minors from the practice of conversion therapy.

The ACLU statement continued in part, “The move underscores the urgent importance of electing officials committed to protecting LGBTQ+ people. This spring, crucial races such as the Wisconsin Supreme Court will determine the future of civil rights and liberties in our state. Register to vote and encourage your social networks to turn out for the February 21st primary and April 4th general elections.”

A number of cities have tried to ban conversion therapy in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sued over the conversion therapy ban in La Crosse, arguing the government doesn’t have the power to dictate someone’s religious beliefs.