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"You Can't 'Pray Away' Gay": Conversion Therapy Ban Enacted in Racine

July 17, 2019 12:40a

(WGTD)---Racine has become the fifth city in the state to enact a ban on conversion therapy—the practice of trying to force someone to change their sexual orientation.

The city council voted 11-3 Tuesday night to prohibit paid therapists from using the therapy on anyone under the age of 18. The ban would not apply to clergy.

The vote was preceded by comments from several dozen members of the audience on both sides of the issue. Opponents said they feared the ban, if enacted, would have a chilling effect on the work done by clergy, and would violate free speech rights. Alderwoman Sandy Weidner said she believed the ban would diminish parental rights. "I'm not going to deprive them of their ability to be a parent," she said. 

Supporters of the ban, including Alderman John Tate, described the issue as a matter of public health that transcends virtually everything else, including parental rights. "Parents aren't always right," he said.

Ban supporters noted repeatedly that all reputable health organizations have spoken out against conversion therapy.

In other matters Tuesday night, the council voted unanimously to commit the city to coming up with a plan to reduce solid waste.

In responding to a question, City Administrator James Palenick said any specific proposals that would be contemplated by administration would first be brought to the council for review. 

The goal is to reduce solid waste in the city by 20% by 2030.