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Minnesota activists use Valentine’s cards in bid to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy

Josh Jackman February 14, 2019
A collection of Valentine's Day cards to Minnesota lawmakers urging a gay 'cure' therapy ban

Minnesota LGBT+ group OutFront presented politicians with Valentine's Day cards calling for a ban on gay 'cure' therapy (TheoKeith/twitter)

LGBT+ activists in Minnesota have attempted to convince lawmakers to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy—with the help of mounds of Valentine’s Day cards.

A coalition led by OutFront Minnesota gave the cards to politicians on Wednesday (February 13) to encourage support for the Mental Health Protections Act, according to Minnesota TV station KARE 11.

If passed, bill HF12/SF83 would make Minnesota the 16th state to ban gay ‘cure’ therapy for all people under 18.

It would also stop people from being able to use the practice on vulnerable adults—a legislative step which has so far only been taken by Washington, DC.

State senator Scott Dibble, the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, told local newspaper The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that otherwise, “it’s a free country, but it has to be disclosed that this has been discredited.”

Openly gay Democratic representative Hunter Cantrell, who is sponsoring the anti-gay 'cure' bill in the House
Openly gay Democrat Hunter Cantrell, who was elected to the House last year, aged 23. (Morrison4MN/twitter)

Openly gay Democratic representative Hunter Cantrell, who is sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives, told the local Star Tribune newspaper that he wanted to protect “children and vulnerable adults who are put into a difficult situation if they are pressured by their families to go through this incredibly harmful, medically negligent pseudotherapy.”

Cantrell, who was elected last year at the age of 23, added: “In Minnesota, I think we pride ourselves on providing only the best and highest quality standard of care. [Conversion therapy] violates that tradition.”

The bill is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House, but may struggle to get through the Republican-controlled Senate.

Minnesota activists and victims of gay ‘cure’ therapy urge ban

OutFront Minnesota spokesman Jacob Thomas told the Star Tribune that when it came to banning gay ‘cure’ therapy, “it’s clear that this isn’t a partisan issue.”

“This is about ensuring Minnesotans are protected under the law from unethical and discredited bad medicine,” said Thomas.

“I was treated more like a dog than a 16-year-old.”

— Junior Avalos, who wants gay ‘cure’ therapy banned in Minnesota

People who have suffered gay ‘cure’ therapy have also spoken out in an effort to ban the practice.

Junior Avalos told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that he was beaten during a two-week ‘conversion’ camp in Texas.

“I was treated more like a dog than a 16-year-old,” he recalled.

Speaking to KARE 11, Roger Sanchez explained how two years of gay ‘cure’ therapy had left him depressed.

“I pleaded with God, and I prayed and thought I was forgotten,” he said.

Valentine's Day cards written by people in Minnesota who want gay 'cure' therapy to be outlawed
Valentine’s Day cards were handed to multiple state representatives in Minnesota. (RepJenSchultz/twitter)

“It took… finding people who loved me for who I was to realise that there was nothing broken, that I was perfect.”

Fellow victim Wil Sampson-Bernstrom said that after four years of gay ‘cure’ therapy, he was left suicidal and with depression.

“My parents and I were lied to. Fraud was committed against my family,” he said.

“I was told consistently that I was a threat to other people, that I was living a sin that I could change. How do you live after that?”

More: gay conversion therapy, gay cure therapy, Hunter Cantrell, Law, Minnesota, Outfront Minnesota, Politics, Scott Dibble, US, US, valentine's day

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