State Sen. Owen Hill.
The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the death of legislation to prohibit widely discredited gay-to-straight “conversion therapy” for children under age 18, with Republicans on the Senate State Affairs “kill committee” voting as expected:
The controversial therapy, sometimes also called reparative therapy, is something that most major mental health professional groups have denounced as harmful to children, said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who introduced HB1175 with Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, two of seven openly gay members of the Colorado Legislature.
“We are not telling people what they can preach on Sunday or what they can say on the street corner on a soapbox on Monday,” Steadman told the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which killed the measure on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Republicans on the panel voting against it, including its chairman, Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction.
“People are free to say whatever demeaning, demoralizing, judgmental things they want to say about people who are LGBT (lesbian gay, bisexual, or transgender) or questioning their sexual orientation. That’s their free-speech right. They can go be as big a jerk as they want to,” Steadman said. “But when it comes to practicing psychotherapy … the state has an interest in making sure that people are not harmed.”
House Bill 15-1175 passed the Democratic-controlled Colorado House with the support of one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction. The case against this kind of “therapy” is probably best made by experts at the American Psychological Association, which condemns gay-to-straight conversion therapy as a harmful solution in search of a problem:
The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing the effects of societal stigmatization discussed…
Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.
Religious right organizations like Focus on the Family have heavily promoted conversion therapy as “treatment” for the orientation/preference/condition/disease of being gay, even as mainstream psychology has moved away from the underlying supposition that gayness is a condition that needs to be treated. But far from being responsive to these changes, Republican politicians will probably be the last in our society to accept that being gay is not a malady:
“I am hesitant to use the heavy hand of government to take away the dignity of choice in cases where individuals want this therapy,” Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said in a statement after the vote.
What we’re talking about here, of course, is prohibiting the use of this “therapy” on children who may not have a choice at all. For whom a parent’s desire to “cure” their child may actually become abusive. We understand that this argument might not break perfectly along partisan lines with the voting public, but politically, it’s an issue that forces lawmakers to disclose how they really feel about gays and lesbians on a pretty basic level.
And folks, there’s still a lot of intolerance out there.