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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer bans funding of gay 'conversion therapy' for youth

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks to Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Oct. 18, 2020. |

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive directive banning state and federal funding of sexual orientation therapy for youth who identify as LGBT. Critics say the directive is unnecessary because counseling for unwanted same-sex attraction has never received state or federal funding.

Known as Executive Directive No. 2021-3, the measure orders the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to “take actions necessary to prohibit the use of state and federal funds for the practice of conversion therapy on minors.”

“This includes without limitation funding related to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), child welfare services, and juvenile justice programs,” continued the Executive Directive signed on Monday.

“All departments and autonomous agencies subject to supervision by the governor that regulate, provide, procure, or pay for medical or mental health services on behalf of Michigan residents must explore what further actions they can take to protect minors from the practice of conversion therapy as permitted by law.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the governor emailed a press release to The Christian Post in which Whitmer was quoted as saying that “hate has no home in Michigan.”

“My administration is committed to addressing the systemic barriers faced by young LGBTQ+ Michiganders so that our state is a place where they are able to reach their full potential,” Whitmer stated.

“The actions we take today will serve as a starting point in protecting our LGBTQ+ youth from the damaging practice of conversion therapy and in ensuring that Michigan is a reflection of true inclusion.”

According to the Michigan government’s website, while similar to executive orders, executive directives differ in that they are not officially filed with the secretary of state.

Dan Jarvis, director of Research and Public Policy at the Michigan Family Forum, was critical of the executive directive, telling CP that he considered it “pandering” as it is “a certainty that there are no state or federal dollars being spent on ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative therapy’ in Michigan.”

“Helping individuals explore why they have certain attractions and how they can manage those feelings is compassionate and laudable,” said Jarvis. “Stifling individuals, including licensed mental health professionals, as some lawmakers have called for, is a serious violation of a person's First Amendment rights.”

Jarvis went on to tell CP that he believed there was “a large segment of the population that struggle with same-sex attraction” who are “quietly suffering” and “wondering why they feel the way they do, and wishing that they did not feel that way.”

“Good public policy, and a Christ-like response, allows those individuals to freely seek out mental health professionals who can help them understand themselves and live out their faith,” he concluded.   

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