Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed three laws on Wednesday, including one banning conversion therapy, another protecting access to abortion rights, and a third protecting gender-affirming care access. The laws will defend LGBTQ+ people and reproductive rights against attacks on both by Republican legislators nationwide.
In a Twitter message published on Wednesday, Walz wrote, “In Minnesota, we’re protecting rights – not taking them away.”
The conversion therapy ban forbids any medical or mental healthcare practitioner from offering such therapy to minors and “vulnerable” adults. It also forbids any entities from publishing advertising that refers to LGBTQ+ identities as “a mental disease, disorder or illness” or promises to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Practitioners who break the law could face discipline from the state’s health licensing boards.
Additionally, the law forbids insurance companies and health care plans from paying for conversion therapy.
Opponents of the ban say it’ll forbid religious-based counseling and stop people from seeking help for unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction and “gender confusion.” But mainstream medical and mental health organizations have disavowed conversion therapy as a harmful form of psychological torture.
The abortion and gender-affirming healthcare laws both forbid state legal authorities from honoring any out-of-state subpoenas or arrest warrants seeking to bring civil or criminal actions against anyone who helps provide access to abortion or gender-affirming care.
These laws will help protect families fleeing other states that have banned or criminalized gender-affirming care and abortions, as well as those that seek to punish anyone who aids someone in obtaining such care.
Most abortions are now banned in 19 states, though courts have blocked the bans in six states, according to The Washington Post. While 14 states have banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth, some of these states have also had their bans temporarily blocked by courts. Minnesota is now the fifth state to protect people seeking gender-affirming care: the three others are Washington, Colorado, New Jersey, and California.
“Families who have fled are already here, and many more are planning to come,” state Rep. Leigh Finke (D), Minnesota’s state’s first out trans lawmaker, told the Minnesota Reformer. “We’re going to be ready to take care of them and to provide them with the health care they need.”
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Kat Rohn, executive director of OutFront Minnesota — the state’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization — said, “Today is a day that I am deeply proud to be a Minnesotan. The signing of these bills marks the most significant legislative wins for the LGBTQ+ community in this state since marriage equality.”
Thanking Gov. Walz for his leadership on these issues, Rohn said, “Today’s signings send a clear message to the LGBTQ+ community: You belong here…. We will continue to affirm our values as a state that trusts all of us to make the best decisions about our bodies and lives, takes pride in providing exceptional health care, and supports communities in need.”
In early March, Walz signed an executive order that directed the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to compile and present a summary of existing scientific literature affirming the safety and effectiveness of gender-affirming care. Additionally, the order informed all healthcare providers within the state that they could bill health insurance companies for gender-affirming care.
Minnesota is now the 22nd state to ban conversion therapy.