Here’s Why This State Senator Voted NO on Banning Conversion Therapy

In a 34-12 vote, Sen. Madaleno’s bill to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy has passed the Senate, as of Mar. 24. It’s now on its way to the House and is in the midst of being heard rapidly, as Maryland’s General Assembly is soon to be finished April 9. However, with this bill, came some ridiculous reasons for why the 12 Senators voted no on SB 1028. Specifically here, this article will highlight Sen. Steve Waugh [R-29], who represents St. Mary’s County and southern Calvert County.

For some background, Sen. Richard Madaleno [D-18], who was the first openly homosexual senator in Maryland’s history to be elected in 2006, has championed pro-LGBT legislation throughout his legislative career. He has introduced legislation that would ban transgender discrimination, end the inheritance tax on same-sex civil unions and legalize gay marriage before the 2015 Supreme Court decision. Sen. Madaleno is no stranger to LGBT+ issues and is an out and proud representative for the youth in the state of Maryland and has proven it by introducing this piece of legislation.

Conversion therapy has historically been proven time and time again by medical professionals that it is pseudoscience. U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said in 2001 that, “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” Some of the practices therapy camps will do are, but are not limited to; chemical castration with hormonal treatment, electroshock aversion therapy, nausea-inducing drug administration and masturbatory reconditioning.

Sen. Waugh, a Republican representative of a fairly conservative area, told a lesbian constituent from St. Mary’s County the reason for his no vote on Facebook.

Referring to the Senator’s comment on conversion therapy being used as a means of treatment for sexual trauma, The American Psychiatric Association stated in May 2000,” no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.” Trained and accredited medical professionals have already proven that sexuality and gender identity are not a choice and have stated here that the claim that sexual assault and rape causes gender dysphoria and/or homosexuality has no scientific validity. 

Jayne, the constituent who had asked him for his reasoning behind the vote, later commented a list of credible organizations that strongly oppose the practice of conversion therapy, which include, but are not limited to: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of School Administrators, American Counseling Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Social Workers, National Education Association, School Social Work Association of America.

Ironically enough, Senator Waugh, who is in favor of pro-life legislation that would block doctors from administering abortions, mentions that the bill, “injects the state” in the middle of treatment discussions between a doctor and a patient. Banning abortion could arguably be a legislative move to inject the state in the treatments of pregnant women as well, contradicting his explanation for not supporting SB 1028.

After falsely explaining why conversion therapy might be of use to those who are sexually assaulted, he also highlights fair and understandable flaws in the bill, such as there being exceptions for churches and homophobic/transphobic parents and a lack of criminal prosecutions on the account of child abuse, but never proceeded to introduce an amendment that would fix them. To point out, all conversion therapy methods are inhumane and unethical according to the American Psychiatric Association because it specifically does not heal a patient or cure them from any disease or mental illness. Conversion therapy violates all bioethical practices in medicine and has been condemned by the listed organizations above for that reason.

Lastly, Sen. Waugh claims, “there is no evidence [that] any doctor is practicing this in Maryland,” but why should the state wait until there are confirmed victims to make legislation to protect the LGBT+ community? The incentive that there must be proof of victimization could lead to one or more lives being lost to suicide due to the trauma that it can cause, as listed in the preamble of the bill. Sen. Pinsky [D-22] had found a location in Rockville that conducted these inexcusable treatments before the 3rd reading vote and had shown his source for it with his colleagues.

But after all that was shared, thankfully the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill and has sent it to the Health and Government Operation Committee in the House of Delegates for further review and testimony and hopefully will arrange a floor vote soon before the session is over. Gov. Hogan [R] has yet to discuss this publicly and has not expressed support or disagreement for this bill as of April 2.

If Sen. Waugh’s excuses for voting no left you outraged, contact him at (301)-858-3673 to express your opinions on the matter. You can also register to vote online for the upcoming Maryland primary on June 26 as long as you have a Maryland-issued license and your Social Security Number on hand.

Photo: The Enterprise

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