Zemke Introduces Bill to Prohibit Conversion Therapy in Michigan

Practice, banned in other states, is damaging to LGBT individuals
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

LANSING — State Representative Adam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) has sponsored legislation that would outlaw the practice of conversion therapy in Michigan. House Bill 5703 prohibits “any practice by a mental health professional that seeks to change a minor’s sexual orientation.” Similar laws are in place in California, New Jersey and New York and have been upheld by federal courts.

“I’m committed to making Michigan an inclusive state, where people feel welcome as they are,” Zemke said. “Conversion therapy has proven to be ineffective and harmful, especially for children, and it doesn’t belong here in Michigan or anywhere. I am pleased to see that this issue is being championed on a bipartisan basis in state legislatures across our country and by Republican Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey. I hope that we will see the same bipartisan support in our own Legislature.”

The issue of conversion therapy hits close to home for Patrick McAlvey, who was born and raised in Lansing and now lives in New York City. Patrick became aware he was attracted to individuals of the same gender when he was 11 years old and started seeing a “therapist” in Lansing who claimed he could change his sexual orientation. He saw this “therapist” on and off for 10 years. His orientation never changed and eventually rejected the notion that his orientation can or should be changed.

“Conversion therapy just didn’t work, and worse — it left me with scars I’ll be healing from for the rest of my life. As a child, I took what my therapist said as fact and changing my orientation became the sole focus of my life — a focus that drained me of self-worth and confidence when I didn’t become straight,” McAlvey said. “I’m so thankful this legislation is being introduced in my home state. I’m hopeful it will save young people the anguish I’ve faced in my own life as a result of reparative therapy.”