Thursday, January 30, 2014

Politics & Social Policy

Gay-to-straight therapy ban legislation fails in Virginia House Panel
STAFF REPORTS | RICHMOND -- A Virginia House of Delegates committee killed off proposed legislation Thursday that would have outlawed therapy for minors. VA House Bill 1135 would have outlawed controversial therapies, often called conversion or restoration therapy, which are intended to turn 'convert' a person's sexual orientation from what proponents of the therapy term "unwanted same-sex attractions" to "ex-gay" or "traditional sexual orientation.
After several hours of passionate testimony from both sides of the issue, members of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions subcommittee killed the bill on a 4-1 party line vote.
The language of the bill only dealt with licensed therapists treating people under 18. Adults seeking the treatment still would have been free to do so.
Delegate Patrick Hope, (D-Arlington County), the bill's sponsor, said he believes the therapy will eventually be banned for children in Virginia, as it is in California and New Jersey.
"Hearts and minds are changing on this sexual orientation issue every day," he said. "One day this will be the law in Virginia.… It's time we had this conversation."
Lawmakers in Maryland, Minnesota and New York have also introduced legislation to prohibit the use of controversial gay-to-straight conversion therapy on LGBT youth. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania's lawmakers introduced similar measures last year.
Nationally, the fight against reparative therapy has been met with push back from faith activists who say the bill limits freedom of religion and speech.
Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County) who authored the Maryland bill noted;
“The major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have recognized that being gay is not a disease or a choice,” said Cardin, in a statement. 
“It is not something you can change with any therapy. Attempting to change sexual orientation with ‘therapy’ does a child far more harm than good,” he said.