Rep. Benson Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy, End Welfare Cap on Kids

BOSTON – State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) voted Wednesday to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors and remove the welfare cap imposed on benefits for children, in two separate bills passed by the House of Representatives.

The House passed H.140, An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors by a 147-8 margin. The bill prohibits licensed therapists from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The abusive practice has been shown to be harmful to LGBTQ children, causing higher rates of depression and suicide. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have already banned conversion therapy.

”I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation to protect children in Massachusetts,” said Representative Benson. “This bill will ensure that children in the Commonwealth do not suffer through the abusive, unscientific methods commonly used in conversion therapy.”

H.140 was referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, which is Chaired in the House by Representative Benson. The Committee recommended the bill ought to pass before referring it to House Ways and Means.

The House subsequently passed H.3594, An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids, by 155-1. This legislation would eliminate a cap placed on welfare benefits adopted in 1995 that prevents families from receiving additional assistance for children born while the family is already receiving assistance.

“Getting rid of the benefit cap is the right thing to do,” said Representative Benson. “There are more than 8,000 children in low-income families currently being denied benefits that they are otherwise eligible for.”

Of the 24 states that imposed family benefit caps in the 1990s, eight have reversed course and eliminated them. The Legislature passed a bill twice last session to eliminate the cap, but Governor Baker vetoed the legislation.