Cornerstone Action

Points to Consider About New Hampshire's Conversion Therapy and Gender Identity Bills

Hearings Are Tuesday, February 21 in Concord

As we reported in Cornerstone's February 17 legislative update, bills on "conversion therapy" and gender identity will have their hearings on Tuesday, February 21, at the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee in rooms 305-307 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. 

HB 587 (hearing at 10 a.m.) would prohibit persons licensed to provide counseling services from engaging in "conversion therapy" with a person under 18 years of age in an attempt to alter the patient/client's sexual orientation. The bill carries a penalty of professional sanctions for the offending counselor. 

HB 478 (1:15 p.m.) would add gender identity to the list of protected classes covered by New Hampshire's anti-discrimination law., treating it in the same manner as race, religion, and national origin. The bill defines "gender identity" as "a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth...." 

These are public hearings. Your opinion on these bills will be very important to the committee, and you'll find contact information for each member at the end of this message. Your attendance at the hearings could make a difference. The committee is preparing for a crowd.

Here are some points to consider about the two bills.

HB 587, "Conversion Therapy"

  • HB 587 puts state law in the way of the therapist/client relationship. If that troubles legislators in any other context, it should trouble them with HB 587.
  • HB 587 fails to take into consideration the responsibility of a client to determine her or his goals for therapy. If the adolescent client is experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction and seeks professional counseling to work through that issue, HB 587 would restrict the therapist's options.
  • HB 587 puts patient confidentiality at risk. Who would determine when words chosen by a therapist cross into the definition of "conversion therapy"? What kind of authority would review patient records and determine that a therapist has or has not complied with HB 587?
  • Minors who want to get counseling for gender transition - changing one's gender identity by means of hormonal and surgical intervention - may currently do so. Why is counseling for gender transition accepted under current law, while counseling for changing sexual orientation might be made a violation of professional ethics under HB 587?
  • Would daycares, women’s shelters, athletic facilities for women or all-female ob/gyn practices be required to hire a man who identifies as a woman?
HB 478, Gender Identity
  • Safety and privacy in settings such as locker rooms are important for everyone.  
  • HB 478 has no enforceable provision to distinguish (for example) a transgendered woman using a women's locker room, from a man who is cross-dressing for the purpose of predatory behavior in that setting. How do supporters of HB 478 propose to screen out predators from people exercising their rights under HB 478 in good faith?
  • It is unclear how the bill would affect religious entities with regards to hiring, housing, and other accommodations.
HB 587 and HB 478 fall short in respecting the dignity and worth of each individual. The bills raise more questions than they settle. The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee needs to send the bills to the full House with Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) recommendations.

Rep. Frank Kotowski, chairman  (R-Hooksett) 603-340-6999   
Rep. Don LeBrun, vice chair (R-Nashua) 603-886-1725   
Rep. Charles McMahon (R-Windham)  603-432-8877   
Rep. Bill Nelson  (R-Brookfield)    603-522-5279    
Rep. John Fothergill  (R-Colebrook)    603-915-1220  
Rep. James MacKay (D-Concord)    603-224-0623   
Rep. Mary Freitas (D-Manchester)    603-622-9056    
Rep. Kendall Snow (D-Manchester)    603-669-1075   
Rep. Joseph Guthrie (R-Hampstead)    603-489-1228    
Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-Deering)    603-464-5805   
Rep. Pamela Gordon (D-Portsmouth) 603-319-8398  
Rep. Martin Bove (R-Londonderry)    603-434-8435   
Rep. Jess Edwards  (R-Auburn)    603-370-7885   
Rep. Jim Fedolfi (R-Hillsborough) 603-464-050     
Rep. William Marsh (R-Wolfeboro)    603-569-6382   
Rep. Mark Pearson  (R-Hampstead)    603-571-0205   
Rep. Mariellen MacKay (D-Nashua) 603-577-8932   
Rep. Patrick Long  (D-Manchester)    603-668-1037    
Rep. Jerry Knirk  (D-Freedom)  617-448-7557   
Rep. Mindi Messmer (D-Rye)    603-498-8847   
Rep. Jeffrey Salloway  (D-Lee)   603-868-1726   
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