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Michigan state representatives introduce bill to ban gay conversion therapy

Aleanna Siacon, Detroit Free Press on

Published in News & Features

DETROIT -- A new proposal on the table could ban conversion therapy in the state of Michigan.

This legislation, House Bill 5550, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Adam Zemke, will "prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in efforts to change the sexual orientation and gender identity of a minor."

If passed, Michigan would be the 10th state in the U.S. with a law prohibiting conversion therapy -- joining California, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey, in addition to Washington, D.C.

This marks the third attempt by Zemke to get legislation on the books. He was behind two other proposals for a ban on conversion therapy: House Bill 5703 in 2014 and House Bill 5669 in 2016, both were not passed.

Zemke and Democratic state Rep. Darrin Camilleri issued a release Thursday condemning the $200 "Unashamed Identity Workshop" hosted by Metro City Church and provided by FORGE Ministries for girls "by birth" ages 12-16 who are questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The original posting for the workshops said: "It doesn't have to be this way. With God's help there can be healing, wholeness and hope. Through thoughtful, relevant and biblical counsel we will help your girl be unashamed of her true sexual identity given to her by God at birth."

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The posting has since been removed, but lead pastor Jeremy Schossau said the workshops will continue.

"It is wildly inappropriate to offer conversion therapy classes in our communities and doing so is misrepresentative of our values as a welcoming state," Zemke said in a statement. "I am proud to sponsor a bill to prohibit these practices in Michigan. Not only has scientific evidence overwhelmingly found that these approaches fail to accomplish their purported task, but they are also profoundly destructive and painful for the participating individual and his or her loved ones."

Zemke and Camilleri also sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday calling on him to investigate Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries for a possible violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

The letter also urged Schuette to work with federal authorities to investigate possible violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act, on the grounds that Section 5 the FTC "prohibits 'unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.'"

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