A debate here in Colorado over legislation that would ban the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” to “cure” individuals of their homosexuality made international news yesterday, as the UK Guardian’s Sam Levin reports:
Colorado Republicans and conservative religious groups have mobilized against the proposed ban, even though the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation has been widely discredited as harmful and dangerous, and are expected to defeat it.
Repeating homophobic and scientifically disproven claims about sexual orientation, [Pols emphasis] Republican legislators and backers of “reparative therapy” have argued that this kind of counseling can be effective at enabling LGBT people to live heterosexual lives. And if their efforts to defeat the bill are successful, the state’s licensed professionals will continue to expose queer youth to a methodology that advocates and psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide.
The legislative battle could have national implications as other states explore similar efforts. Some supporters of the ban who have experienced conversion therapy will testify that their parents sent them from across the country to Colorado for the controversial services, which can have long-term negative impacts on mental health.
During the debate on the House floor on House Bill 16-1210, House Republicans led by Reps. Tim Leonard and Kathleen Conti pulled out every discredited chestnut in the homophobe’s arsenal of talking points–not just to defend “conversion therapy,” but to very openly disparage LGBT citizens in blunt terms:
Representative Kathleen Conti, a Republican, compared being gay to alcoholism, [Pols emphasis] asking psychologists who testified against reparative therapy whether they would help a minor who came to them wanting to overcome the addiction.
Conti further expressed concerns that the bill would prevent professionals from helping LGBT minors who want to “compartmentalize” and suppress same-sex desires, who may say to a therapist: “I feel like I have these homosexual desires, but … I know innately I want to have my own biological children.”
Leonard, a staunch social conservative with a long history of uncouth statements about gay people, eagerly joined in Conti’s gay=alcoholism analogy (BTW, we should point out that this is the same Kathleen Conti who was absolutely convinced that al Qaeda was operating secret training camps in Colorado). And then, naturally, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt got his turn:
Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, tried to tack an amendment onto the bill that would have created a religious exemption to the measure, allowing a child to have such therapy if that’s what they wanted.
The point of the bill, of course, is therapy that presumes one’s LGBT sexuality to be a “mental illness” has been completely discredited by the vast majority of mental health professionals–and should not be used on anyone. Any attempt to create an “exemption” for those who may “want” this discredited “therapy” ignores the state’s responsibility to prevent the use of quack therapies by licensed professionals.
But in the process of debating this legislation, we’ve learned once again that some of our lawmakers have seriously messed up views about gay people.
You know, in general.