BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Reuters reports that California's state Assembly, by a 51–21 vote, has approved a bill to prohibit children and teenagers from undergoing therapy that claims to reverse homosexuality.
The Aug 28 vote means California has taken another step towards becoming the first US state to adopt such a ban, according to the report, which notes the Senate in May "passed its version of the bill by a vote of 23-13." Differences in the two measures need to be sorted out by Aug 31 before a final bill is sent to the state's Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown. But it remains unclear whether Brown supports it.
A number of gay rights groups are urging Brown to back the measure.
In a letter to Brown, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin says its "time to safeguard the most vulnerable among us by ending the abusive practice of subjecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth to damaging attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender expression. Research has shown that far from being beneficial or even neutral, these efforts have harmful effects on the participants."
The HRC statement continues: "The majority of national organizations with expertise in mental health either opposes or warns about the negative effects of efforts to change sexual orientation, including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization."
AllOut.org has embarked on a petition campaign to put pressure on Brown to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. Just under 19,000 people have so far indicated their support for that campaign. Equality California is also asking people to write letters to the governor, asking him to sign Senate Bill 1172.
The bill's sponsor, state Senator Ted Lieu, noted that retired psychiatrist, Dr Robert Spitzer, retracted claims in a controversial 2001 study he conducted that
claimed "highly motivated" gays and lesbians could change their sexual
"In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are
largely correct," said Spitzer, who apologized to the gay and lesbian community.
Exodus International head Alan Chambers has
also been repeatedly distancing himself from his organization's "change is
possible" mantra, much to the intense chagrin of those still devoted to
the idea that all gay people need to rid themselves of homosexuality is a
good dose of prayer and therapy. Chambers even apologized at a Gay Christian Network (GCN) conference in January for Exodus's use of that phrase.
In a July 6 New York Times story, Chambers reiterates that there
is no cure for homosexuality and says reparative therapy is an exercise
in false hope for gays and might even be harmful. According to The Times, accusations of heresy have now been levelled against Chambers, causing a rift in the ex-gay movement.
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