(Slate) -- On Wednesday, Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill prohibiting mental health professionals in the state from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Nevada measure comes on the heels of a similar New Mexico ban approved by Republican Gov. Susanna Martinez. Nevada and New Mexico join California, Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and the District of Columbia in outlawing the widely discredited practice of LGBTQ “conversion therapy” for minors.
Sandoval’s signature contributes to a growing bipartisan consensus regarding conversion therapy bans. Remarkably, a full half of state bans on the practice were signed by Republican governors, albeit in blue-to-purple states: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Illinois’, and Chris Christie signed New Jersey’s shortly before his fall from grace. These governors obviously view the bans as good politics and good law. Yet Republicans in Congress continue to oppose federal legislation outlawing conversion therapy for minors with near uniformity.
This gap between Republican governors and the congressional GOP isn’t entirely surprising. Sandoval, Martinez, Rauner, and Christie were each presented a proposed ban and given two choices: Sign it or veto it. A veto would have created a publicity nightmare by handing Democrats—who, by and large, sponsored the bills in the first place—a winning talking point: We oppose torture; the governor does not. For each governor, quickly and quietly approving the ban was almost certainly the smartest political option.
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