It’s been nearly half a century since responsible mental health professionals stopped treating same-sex attraction as a psychological disorder.

But in many states, including Maine, a practitioner of what’s called “conversion therapy” can get a license to cure a disease that most experts agree does not exist.

It’s time to stop. The Legislature has passed a bill that would put treatments that attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender expression out of bounds for state-licensed professionals. It has been sent it to Gov. Paul LePage, and he has until Saturday to sign it or let it become law without his signature.

We hope the governor will let that happen.

As defined in the bill, L.D. 912, conversion therapy is “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, any effort to change gender expression or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

The practice has been denounced by many national health and psychiatric organizations.

The American Medical Association, for example, said in testimony that conversion therapy is “a coercive practice that may cause long-term psychological harm, particularly to young patients” and that the underlying assumptions of the practice have no scientific or medical merit.

The bill does not interfere with any religious tradition. Preachers can still talk about sin and redemption as they see it. Parents remain free to communicate their values to their children.

The only thing that would change is that a practitioner in Maine could no longer hang a shingle and charge money for pseudo-scientific treatment with the state’s approval.

Same-sex attraction is not something that needs to be cured. The government also should have no role in telling people that their gender expression is right or wrong. Ethical psychotherapists have long ago stopped attempting this treatment because it doesn’t help their patients – it harms them.

Thirteen other states have passed a bill like this, and no governor has vetoed one. It’s time Maine joined them by taking this humane step.

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