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Conversion Therapy

Illinois Sends Conversion Therapy Ban to Governor

Illinois Sends Conversion Therapy Ban to Governor


Gov. Bruce Rauner hasn't said if he'll sign the bill, but its backers are optimistic.

The Illinois Senate today approved a ban on the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors, after the House passed it last week, and it now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

If Rauner signs the bill -- and whether he will is unclear -- Illinois will join California,New Jersey,Oregon, and the District of Columbia in barring licensed therapists from subjecting young people to the discredited and harmful practice that seeks to change their sexual orientation or gender expression.

The vote in the Senate was 34-19 in favor of the bill, reports the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which partnered with Equality Illinois and the Human Rights Campaign to organize the coalition supporting the measure. The House passed the legislation May 19 by a vote of 68-43.

"We couldn't be prouder to add Illinois to the list of legislatures that have acted to protect LGBT youth, and we applaud the dedication of Equality Illinois and the tireless coalition on the ground," said NCLR #BornPerfect campaign coordinator Samantha Ames in a press release. "We hope Gov. Bruce Rauner will join fellow Republicans like Chris Christie, who signed New Jersey's conversion therapy ban in 2013. No matter our sexual orientation, gender identity, or political party, we can all agree that children's lives are worth protecting. We call on Gov. Rauner to sign this lifesaving bill and protect LGBT youth and their families from these dangerous and fraudulent practices."

Rauner defeated incumbent Democrat and LGBT ally Pat Quinn last November in a race that turned largely on the state's financial problems. He usually doesn't say in advance what action he will take on legislation, but he did meet with a survivor of conversion therapy, noted Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the bill's chief House sponsor. Sen. Daniel Bliss carried the bill in the state Senate.

"I had a great meeting with Gov. Rauner when the bill was pending in the House," Cassidy tells The Advocate today. "He shared that he found the survivor's story very touching. He has made a habit of not saying what he will do on specific legislation, but that meeting, combined with the bipartisan leadership in both chambers, makes me optimistic."

Conversion therapy, also known as "ex-gay" therapy, has been denounced by every major medical and mental health organization in the nation. It also has been condemned by President Obama and other top federal officials. Just last week, U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu and Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation that would classify conversion therapy as fraud and ban its use on people of any age by for-profit practitioners nationwide.

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