WISCONSIN — The mayor of La Crosse has refused to veto the city's ban on conversion therapy, despite pressure from a coalition group.
The coalition includes people from local churches, led by former City Council members Tom Sweeney and Lorraine Decker. They rallied outside City Hall Tuesday afternoon ahead of a 5 p.m. veto deadline for Mayor Mitch Reynolds.
Rally organizers say the ban is in direct violation of the freedom of speech and religion outlined in the U.S. Constitution, the La Crosse Tribune reported. Some people who attended the rally say they want to preserve the ability to freely counsel people on their sexuality and gender identity.
The Common Council voted 6-4 to ban conversion therapy last week, saying the ban protects “the health, safety and welfare of the people of the city of La Crosse.”
Conversion therapy is a controversial practice that often impacts the LGBTQ community by aiming to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
La Crosse is the 14th city in Wisconsin to ban conversion therapy. While the ban was opposed by some, it has the support of the School District of La Crosse, the YWCA of La Crosse, health professionals and other community members.
The group will now focus on getting a current council member who voted to ban conversion therapy to reconsider the vote, according to Sweeny.