The House on Wednesday gave Rep. Susannah Whipps of Athol a rare second chance to record a vote in favor of a ban on conversion therapy after the independent legislator said that her initial vote against it was by mistake.
The House voted 147-8 on Wednesday in favor of H 140, which outlaws state-licensed therapists from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Mental health experts and LGBTQ groups argue the practice is scientifically unsound and can trigger depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
Initially, Whipps was recorded as one of the eight who opposed the bill. Later in the afternoon, after a long recess, House leaders took the rare step of agreeing to retake the vote, and Whipps voted in favor of it.
“On the first vote on Conversion Therapy Ban I believed I voted ‘Yes,’ ” Whipps said in an email to the News Service. “I was surprised when a colleague showed me the print out and I was listed as a ‘No.'”
The do-over enabled another representative to switch his vote.
Republican Rep. Nicholas Boldyga of Southwick voted in favor of the bill the first time, but during the second pass, he voted against it. Boldyga could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.
Whipps pointed out that she voted in favor of a similar conversion therapy bill in 2018 before that bill fell short at the end of the legislative session. She also co-sponsored the current version of the legislation.
“I take a great deal of pride in my support of the LGBTQ community and I’m very appreciative that the speaker and my colleagues were willing to reconsider & take a second vote,” Whipps wrote.
Seven other Republicans opposed the bill on both passes: Reps. Donald Berthiaume, David DeCoste, Shawn Dooley, Peter Durant, Marc Lombardo, Joseph McKenna, and Michael Soter.