Earlier this summer, New Hampshire joined more than a dozen other states in banning conversion therapy for minors, protecting them from the harmful practice of trying to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Republicans haven’t given up the fight just yet though: voters just nominated a defender of conversation therapy to be their candidate for Congress.
In Tuesday night’s primary election, Republican voters in New Hampshire’s second congressional district selected Rep. Steven Negron to challenge incumbent congresswoman Annie Kuster (D). But just a few weeks ago, Negron explained his opposition to the conversion therapy ban, suggesting that children who might be LGBTQ are confused and need help making a “decision.”
“I did not vote for that,” he told WMUR Channel 9. “I believe that’s something that — when you look at these young children that are trying to make a decision — and I remember when I was 15-16, I was confused. I had a lot of options in my life.”
“I think we need to be able to help them understand what it is, give them all the right information and let them get the treatment that they need to make sure they understand what the situation is. And I think parents have a huge role in that as well, so that’s why I think we should be able to help them.”
Technically, Negron did not vote against the bill; he wasn’t present for the vote at all. His belief that children can somehow be guided away from an LGBTQ identity nevertheless runs counter to what major medical organizations have concluded about conversion therapy — that it’s ineffective and harmful.
Negron, an Air Force veteran who has worked for several defense contractors, has a platform that is otherwise quite conservative as well. He is pro-gun, anti-choice, anti-immigrant, and anti-union, recently describing himself as “in lockstep” with many of President Trump’s policies. During his two years in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, however, he has not personally sponsored a single bill.
Because the primary was only decided two days ago, there is not currently any head-to-head polling between Negron and Kuster. A May poll found that Kuster is still viewed mostly favorably by her voters, but many also expressed interesting in giving someone new a chance in the seat. An August poll found that 41 percent of voters in her district viewed her favorably.
Negron won his primary Tuesday with only 26 percent of Republican votes, winning a tight race against five other opponents.