Senate GOP Upholds “Pray The Gay Away” Pseudo-Therapy

State Sen. Owen Hill.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the death of legislation to prohibit widely discredited gay-to-straight “conversion therapy” for children under age 18, with Republicans on the Senate State Affairs “kill committee” voting as expected:

The controversial therapy, sometimes also called reparative therapy, is something that most major mental health professional groups have denounced as harmful to children, said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who introduced HB1175 with Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, two of seven openly gay members of the Colorado Legislature.

“We are not telling people what they can preach on Sunday or what they can say on the street corner on a soapbox on Monday,” Steadman told the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which killed the measure on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Republicans on the panel voting against it, including its chairman, Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction.

“People are free to say whatever demeaning, demoralizing, judgmental things they want to say about people who are LGBT (lesbian gay, bisexual, or transgender) or questioning their sexual orientation. That’s their free-speech right. They can go be as big a jerk as they want to,” Steadman said. “But when it comes to practicing psychotherapy … the state has an interest in making sure that people are not harmed.”

House Bill 15-1175 passed the Democratic-controlled Colorado House with the support of one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction. The case against this kind of “therapy” is probably best made by experts at the American Psychological Association, which condemns gay-to-straight conversion therapy as a harmful solution in search of a problem:

The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing the effects of societal stigmatization discussed…

Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.

Religious right organizations like Focus on the Family have heavily promoted conversion therapy as “treatment” for the orientation/preference/condition/disease of being gay, even as mainstream psychology has moved away from the underlying supposition that gayness is a condition that needs to be treated. But far from being responsive to these changes, Republican politicians will probably be the last in our society to accept that being gay is not a malady:

“I am hesitant to use the heavy hand of government to take away the dignity of choice in cases where individuals want this therapy,” Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said in a statement after the vote.

What we’re talking about here, of course, is prohibiting the use of this “therapy” on children who may not have a choice at all. For whom a parent’s desire to “cure” their child may actually become abusive. We understand that this argument might not break perfectly along partisan lines with the voting public, but politically, it’s an issue that forces lawmakers to disclose how they really feel about gays and lesbians on a pretty basic level.

And folks, there’s still a lot of intolerance out there.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    Dear Senate Republicans,

    For when you’re in a hurry, and haven’t got time for prayer:

    Market solutions, baby!!

  2. Progressicat says:

    Pray it away? Apparently, all they need is some Beano.

  3. DaftPunk says:

    Senaturd Hill provides the money quote:

    “I am hesitant to use the heavy hand of government to take away the dignity of choice…”

    Methinks not so much.

  4. FrankUnderwood says:

    Of course they had to kill the bill; after all, Obama supports it. The State Affairs Committee vote took place on the same day that the NY Times reported that Obama is pushing a strategy of banning conversion therapy for minor at the state level.

    The Times also reported that the administration now has opened the first unisex restroom in the Eisenhower Eexcutive Office Building. Someone please roll the fainting couch in front of Elliott and pass him the smelling salts.

    And my favorite part about the State Affairs Committee vote was Owen Hill’s statement about keeping big gummint from violating the “dignity of choice” associated with conversion therapy. Owen Hill……pro-choice (so to speak).  Who knew?

  5. BlueCat says:

    You know, Rs are always accusing Dems of playing the race card and falsely accusing them of wars on women and gays. They say they know their constituents really care most about the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs and that’s what they’re all about. But everywhere you look their top priorities as legislators and governors are always about restricting the rights of gays and women and genuflecting to radical gun nuts and the radical religious right. Nobody needs to play any “cards” against them. They do a great job all by themselves. They can pray all they want but they should have no right to claim that their faith is therapy. No legit therapist has the right to tell a gay person that being gay is something wrong with them that needs to be cured.

    But then red states are, as we speak, passing laws that require doctors to lie to their patients about the risks of abortion and whether medical induced abortion is reversible and to prevent doctors from discussing the risks of leaving loaded guns laying around where their toddlers might get hold of them. It’s a very sorry state of affairs when lawmakers can insist on keeping flim flam therapies available while silencing doctors about real risks and forcing them to tell lies about fabricated risks. This is beyond conservatism. It’s medieval. Whats next? Laws demanding that doctors tell their patients that leaches and blood letting to realign the humors are the best way to cure strep?

  6. davebarnes says:

    Gay Conversion Therapists Claim Most Patients Fully Straight By The Time They Commit Suicide

    “Boasting that they have cured hundreds of teens and young adults over the years, gay conversion therapists from the Redeeming Path Treatment Center told reporters Thursday that most of their patients are completely straight by the time they commit suicide. “We’ve found that a combination of group interventions, narrative therapy, and cognitive-behavioral approaches fully eliminates homosexual urges before the individual takes his or her own life,” said program director Christian Weber, adding that many of their biggest success stories are even in stable, heterosexual relationships when they’re found lifeless in their own home or dredged from a nearby body of water. “Of course, some of our patients do relapse back into the gay lifestyle, but even then our committed therapists are typically able to guide them back toward healthy, straight behavior before they end it all in their childhood bedroom or dorm. By the time they’ve swallowed an entire bottle of prescription painkillers, they’ve typically completed a remarkable transformation.” Weber, who said that he stands behind his practice not just as a doctor, but also as a parent, confirmed that his own son displayed no homosexual tendencies in the hours preceding the discovery of his body.”,38406/

  7. hawkeye says:

    Reminds me of a saying from the 1950’s during the McCarthy era … better dead than red.

    In this day and age, ISIS is in the conversion business. Indeed, they had a conversion service on a Libyan beach about a month ago.

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