July 11, 2018 – MADISON, WI – The Madison Common Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the practice of LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors, joining a growing list of municipalities and 13 states that have passed similar measures.

Alder Arvina Martin (District 11) introduced the motion after Milwaukee’s own city council passed a conversion therapy ban in March, working with Austin Kieler, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s LGBT Caucus, who had helped with that city’s ban.

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and destructive practice, with absolutely no benefits. It has no place being practiced in our city,” Martin told Our Lives.

“I’m proud that we were able to accept testimony from the community to affirm that LGBT youth’s identities are valid, and in no need of change. In these days, where we worry about the loss of civil rights for many across the country, including the LGBT community, I felt it was important to for us to take this step, so that we can protect the health and well being of our youth,” she went on.

Local art and psychotherapist Owen Karcher spoke in favor of the ban at the meeting, noting that 95% of the clients he serves identify as LGBTQ and come from as far as three hours away specifically to seek the services of “knowledgeable practitioners, because there are still so few, and they face a lot of discrimination within various institutions.”

Karcher went on to cite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of conversion therapy, and the overwhelming body of research that shows it to be damaging, especially to young people who are often forced into it by parents or guardians.

Also speaking in support of the ban, Karcher’s spouse and fellow art therapist Chelsea O’Neil Karcher brought the point home.

“I’ve spent much of my adult life advocating for LGBTQ youth,” she said. “My clients are rarely struggling with who they are. They come to me because they’re struggling with how the world sees them and treats them.”

There was no opposition to the motion at the council level, and Mayor Paul Soglin thanked Martin for her leadership on the issue and guiding it through the legislative process. Martin also gave credit to Alders Shiva Bidar and Amanda Hall for their direct assistance.