DULUTH — On Monday night, Dec. 16, Duluth became the second city in the state to prohibit conversion therapy — the practice of attempting to convert lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer young people into heterosexuals.
By an 8-0 vote with 5th District Councilor Jay Fosle absent, the Duluth City Council approved an ordinance banning the use of conversion therapy on anyone under 18 years of age, following in the footsteps of Minneapolis and Superior — cities that have already done the same.
Prior to Monday night's vote, supporters of the ban rallied in the lobby of City Hall. Some wore colorful rainbow-inspired attire and waved signs reading: Self-hatred is not therapy; Love doesn't need a cure; You can't fix me, I'm not broken; and Love kids for who they are.
Several Duluth city councilors joined in the rally, as did Mayor Emily Larson.
"To our young people, to our residents and to visitors who identify as GLBTQAI and two-spirit, and for people whose children identify as such, we are here for you. We are an open and affirming community that believes that you are valuable, that you have been wonderfully made just as you are," she said.
Larson also pledged to add passing a statewide ban on subjecting young people to conversion therapy to the city's list of legislative priorities in the coming year.
House Majority Whip and District 7B Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth, noted that the House passed a bill last session to outlaw the use of conversion therapy on people under 18 years of age, but the legislation stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
"We from the DFL majority in the Minnesota House believe in the safety and well-being of every human, full stop," she said. Olson said she and her colleagues will continue to push for a statewide ban of conversion therapy.
District 7A Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL- Duluth, thanked the Duluth City Council and Mayor Larson for their efforts to protect the rights of young people. She, too, said legislators will renew their campaign for a state law, so that Minnesota joins the ranks of 17 other states and more than 50 cities across the nation that have offered similar protections.
The ordinance passed by the council Monday applies to medical professionals, therapists and counselors. However, it does not bind religious clergy members.
- Peter Passi