Colorado is one step closer to outlawing the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors, after the state's Democrat-controlled House of Representatives today approved House Bill 1210 by a vote of 35-29.
The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it will be carried by out Sens. Pat Steadman, Lucia Guzman, and Jessie Ulibarri.
The legislation, introduced by out Rep. Paul Rosenthal and cosponsored by fellow gay Reps. Joann Ginal, Dominick Moreno, and Daneya Esgar, would prohibit licensed physicians and mental health care providers from engaging in "efforts that seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity," according to the bill. It would not prohibit faith-based counselors from engaging in efforts to pray away the gay, carving out an exemption for "religious ministry," provided the counselor "is not holding himself or herself out as a licensee at the time of the religious ministry."
Rep. Rosenthal introduced a similar bill last year, which passed the Democrat-controlled House, but died in a committee in the Republican-controlled Senate, reports The Denver Post. If the bill becomes law, Colorado would join New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, the city of Cincinnati, and Washington, D.C., in banning the discredited practice's use on minors. After a similar bill stalled in New York's legislature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order intended to limit access to so-called sexual orientation change efforts.
Conversion therapy -- which aims to turn LGBT people straight and cisgender -- has been denounced as junk science by every major medical and psychological organization in the country. In addition to the state-level bans mentioned above, congressional Democrats earlier this year introduced a bill that asks the Federal Trade Commission to ban all conversion therapy practices (for any age) nationwide, labeling the ineffective, harmful "therapy" as fraud. Sometimes called "reparative" or "ex-gay" therapy, the practice has also been condemned by President Obama and other top federal officials.
Statewide LGBT organization One Colorado celebrated the bill's passage with bipartisan support, blasted comments from representatives who claimed being gay was a form of mental illness, and called on senators to give the bill a "fair committee assignment and hearing."
"Comparing LGBT Coloradans to alcoholics and drug addicts in an attempt to claim that LGBT people should be forced to change who they are is not only offensive -- it's dangerous," said One Colorado executive director Dave Montez in a statement today. "Young, LGBT Coloradans are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers -- not because of who they are -- but because of the rejection, harassment, and insensitive remarks they hear every day. Subjecting Colorado's young people to conversion therapy only increases this risk."