In a 9-2 vote, the Anchorage Assembly late last night adopted an ordinance banning so-called conversion therapy for minors, and rejected determined, laudable efforts by Assemblywomen Crystal Kennedy and Jamie Allard to amend the legislation.
The ordinance defines conversion therapy as a practice seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It prevents licensed professionals – such as therapists or school counselors – from engaging in efforts to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The ordinance, though, applies only to licensed professionals, not clergy acting in a religious capacity or parents and others unlicensed to provide counseling.
Proponents argued the ordinance is necessary to protect young people from abuse, mistreatment and coercion in the therapy process. Opponents argued it would interfere in the relationship between a child and his or her church, therapist and family, while abridging their rights of privacy, confidentiality and free speech.
The controversial practice has drawn fire from medical professionals and counselors, but a majority of the 60 or so people who testified in the two-day meeting, it should be noted, opposed the ordinance.
Explaining her opposition to the ordinance as written, Kennedy said: “It is one-sided. It really only serves to protect those who want to promote and protect homosexuality. There’s always another side, and we’ve heard a lot of that from a lot of the testimony over the last several days.”
We are left to wonder at what appears to be a serious intrusion in the counseling process by local government. It appears to us that the ordinance introduced by Assembly members Felix Rivera, Austin Quinn-Davidson and Chris Constant is an unnecessary overreach; that parents should have the last say when it comes to their children, not the Anchorage Assembly.
Only one thing is certain about this ordinance: It will end up in court, and likely sooner than later.