AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine's governor said Thursday that she would sign a bill to ban so-called gay conversion therapy for minors that advanced in Maine's House and Senate this week.
If the bill becomes law, Maine would join 16 states that have banned the practice, which aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Maine Senate on Thursday gave initial approval to the bill, which received a 91-46 vote in the House on Wednesday. The bill faces more votes in both chambers before it can head to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' desk.
Maine's former Republican governor vetoed a similar measure last year, but the bill has gained momentum this year under a Democratic-led Legislature.
"I look forward to signing it!" Mills tweeted Thursday. "It is time for all LGBTQ people in Maine to know they are valued and respected."
Supporters decry the practice as a harmful and note it has been medically discredited; the American Psychological Association opposes the therapy.
"It just doesn't work," said Democratic House Majority Leader Matt Moonen.
Critics of the bill, meanwhile, said it was too broad and infringes on parental choice and religious freedom.
The bill downplays the "tried and true values and traditions of parents and the church," said Belgrade resident Joy Emmons, who told lawmakers she was a certified counselor with the American Association of Christian Counselors.
A Republican failed to gain support for an amendment to exclude talk therapy and counseling from counting as "conversion therapy." But, under that amendment, the use of punishment or "unpleasant stimuli," such as ice baths, pornographic materials and electroconvulsive therapy, would be banned.
A law against "conversion therapy" was signed recently in Massachusetts, while states including North Carolina are considering such legislation this year.