Supporters and opponents react to one of two conversion therapy ban ordinances advancing to vote

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 8:25 PM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. (KCTV) - Jackson County legislators discussed several ordinances that intend to ban conversion therapy for minors Monday during a meeting filled with changes, multiple votes and at times confusion on whether enough votes were tallied to advance to a vote.

At the meeting’s conclusion, it appeared the debate on which ordinance should ultimately be adopted into law is not over yet.

Ordinance 5728 sponsored by 1st District Legislator Manny Abarca, was introduced and perfected Monday. It advanced and will be voted on again to determine if it will be passed into law next week. “Grateful to have the opportunity to work with individuals, organizations and my colleagues to get this needed legislation passed so that we can protect our most vulnerable citizens,” Abarca said in a written statement.

“This legislation has been used as a political football, which is unfortunate for the citizens of Jackson County but let me be clear that this legislation mirrors the legislation that was voted on last week but adds a notification provision for citizens that brings clarity and will help with enforcement,” Jackson County Legislature Chair DaRon McGee said in a written statement.

If passed, Ordinance 5728 would have a notification requirement that would require Jackson County to notify community members of a conversation therapy ban by publicizing a notification in Jackson County newspapers and on social media.

Opponents say the notification requirement would make the ban unenforceable and put Jackson County in jeopardy of lawsuits. Those who oppose the notification requirement are planning to continue pushing for the advancement and adoption of Ordinance 5726.

Ordinance 5726 has the support of County Executive Frank White, Chairman of the Kansas City LBGTQ Commission Justice Horn, the national organization the Trevor Project and the ordinance’s sponsor 1st District At-Large Legislator Jalen Anderson.

The ordinance sponsored by Anderson does not have a notification requirement. Supporters say it is a comprehensive, enforceable version that could successfully ban conversion therapy for minors in Jackson County.

Anderson said Ordinance 5726 will be sent to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. “I want this to pass,” Anderson said. “I want this to be done so we protect children at the end of the day.”

On Sunday, Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said he would be lighting the downtown courthouse in rainbow colors. He said the lighting would remain until the legislature passes Ordinance 5726.

“My responsibility as County Executive is to support good legislation and not support legislation that is going to put the county as risk,” White said Monday. “Ordinance 5728 is a hard ordinance to ensure awareness.”

Ordinance 5728 is slated for a vote on Monday at 3PM.