Sometimes Seattle politicians get it really, really right. Today, all nine Seattle City Council members unanimously voted to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth in the city.
Lorena González, the council member who drafted the new ordinance, gave a powerful speech upon introducing the legislation. "Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender is not an illness," she said. "Nor is it something that needs a cure."
Five states and the District of Columbia have already banned conversion therapy on minors, but today, Seattle became the third American city (after Miami and Cincinnati) to ban the practice independently. If mental health providers practice conversion therapy on anyone under 18 years old in Seattle, they'll now be fined $500 for the first offense, and $1,000 for every subsequent civil violation.
Council Member Debora Juarez also gave an emotional testimony about the power of the new ordinance. She related it back to the experiences of Native American children who were forced into boarding schools by the US government in an attempt to erase their cultural identities.
"Conversion therapy is the 20th century or 21st century version of what happened to my people all in the name in assimilation," Juarez, who is a member of the Blackfeet Nation, said. "We were forcibly taken from our families, from our children. I am literally one generation removed from that practice."
Juarez directed her final statement to the LGBTQ community. "It breaks my heart that we have to pass a law to recognize your humanity," she said. "So today, God bless you."