In the midst of some hard laws for the transgender community, we have a big win for the LGBTQ+ community on the whole. HB0228 was signed by Governor Cox and is now law. This is a big deal for a few reasons.
First, we had previously been down this road. In 2019, then Rep Hall ran a similar bill. There was contention around the wording and gender identity was stripped out along with other wording changes and since the bill was no longer where he wanted it, the sponsor abandoned it. Then Governor Herbert swooped in and declared that the Department of Pubic Licensing (DOPL) review it as an administrative rule and we had hearings. DOPL implemented it and we had a conversion therapy ban. Others were still unhappy both that it wasn’t a law and that they felt some wording was vague.
That leads to another big deal. This year HB0228 came out and its initial wording tried to address previous concerns but we were noting that current conversion therapy practices are called talk therapy and the initial wording allowed this. Those individuals who were concerned on the wording from a few years ago, along with Equality Utah, sat down with the sponsor and leadership and listened to each other and discussed wording and wouldn’t you know it, they came to a place where everyone felt their concerns were addressed.
Then something jaw dropping happened. Conversion Therapy is typically known as a liberal cause. Why? This is a people cause and here is where we showed it more. Not only did both sides testify in favor of the new wording, but both the House and Senate voted *unanimously* to pass the bill. That kind of vote typically only happens for topics not considered contentious. Yet here it happened on a bill where it wasn’t expected and this is in the second reddest state in the nation.
We need to learn from all of this. The division in our country is strong and we need to work past that. We need to communicate. We need to hear each other. We can do better things if we come together.