(WXYZ) — Since 2014, Democrats in Michigan’s House and Senate have tried three times to limit conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice that attempts to turn gay people straight.
A local pastor accused of practicing conversion therapy says children are being “recruited” to be gay.— Ross Jones (@rossjonesWXYZ) May 2, 2019
Tonight at 6, why Michigan has resisted banning the discredited therapy. pic.twitter.com/J6kXKxgQqP
The bills never got the chance for a vote.
"The evidence shows you cannot change sexual orientation, so the legislation was kind of a no-brainer," said Rep. Zemke back in 2014, when he first introduced the bill banning mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors.
"We want to make sure children cannot be exposed to situations that are emotionally harmful to them because of their parents' beliefs or desires to try to change their orientation."
But Zemke’s bill died without ever receiving a hearing, much less a vote.
Democratic lawmakers would try again, introducing virtually the same legislation in 2016 and again in 2018. Those bills, too, went nowhere.
The common theme in each attempt has been GOP control: both the state House and Senate have enjoyed Republican majorities, whose voters are typically more Christian and back socially conservative policies.
Despite opposition from medical and psychiatric associations—who say conversion therapy does not work and can in fact do harm—Christian and Evangelical voters have historically been more likely to support attempts to favor a heterosexual lifestyle.
Still, despite Michigan’s opposition to banning conversion therapy, 16 other states and the District of Columbia have had no problem implementing prohibitions.
Last week, Democratic lawmakers tried a fourth time in six years to ban the practice. While the House and Senate are still in GOP control, the margin is the thinnest it’s been in years.
“We can say this is not allowed,” said Senator Mallory McMorrow, who introduced the Senate bill last week. “You are a medical professional, you are not allowed to provide these services.”