January 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Democratic lawmakers this month pushed for bans on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for minors – often referred to as “reparative therapy” by counselors who provide the service – in two states that previously rejected similar proposals, with mixed results.
Left-leaning state legislators in both Illinois and Virginia re-introduced the bans in the hopes that their states would beat some of the most liberal states in the union in the race to suppress the therapy, which aims to help people who want to diminish or eliminate same-sex attraction and develop healthy sexual feelings toward the opposite sex. Homosexual activists oppose the treatment because they say it promotes the “dangerous” notion that sexual preference is something that can be changed, rather than something a person is born with.
So far, only California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have banned the therapy for minors in response to pressure from homosexual activists. Elected officials in Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, and Illinois have attempted to pass bans, but failed to garner enough votes for passage. Similar bans previously introduced in Virginia and several other states were either withdrawn or died in committee.
This time around, Republican legislators in Virginia swiftly killed the proposal, with committees in both the Senate and House of Delegates refusing to send it forward for consideration by the legislature after hearing from the bill’s supporters and critics.
“Homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder,” said James Parrish, president of Equality Virginia, a homosexual advocacy group. “Prohibiting any health care provider from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with any person under 18 years of age is necessary to protect our youth as they come to terms with who they are.”
But Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said the bill would take the power to make private health care decisions out of the hands of families and give it to the government instead.
“Proponents of legislation prohibiting counseling for kids with gender confusion have to answer the question why they believe it is okay to allow a child to change their behavior or body to match their feelings but it is bigoted to consider helping someone change their behavior or feelings to match their body,” Cobb said. “Virginia law is clear that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children, a right this legislation clearly violates.”
The Senate committee charged with reviewing the bill tabled it on January 22. On Thursday, the House followed suit, ensuring that the proposal will not come to a vote during this session.
Meanwhile, legislators in Illinois are pushing ahead. The Illinois ban’s sponsor, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who is openly lesbian, said “it is tragic” that young people struggling with same-sex attraction “suffer at the hands of so-called experts” who try to help them change their sexual preference. “That is why my bill would label the therapy as ‘unprofessional conduct’ and subject the perpetrator to disciplinary action,” Cassidy said.
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Homosexual activists in Illinois have praised Cassidy’s bill, and called its passage one of their top political goals for this session.
“Illinois should be at the forefront of banning this failed and discredited non-therapy that attempts to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Bernard Cherkasov, president of gay advocacy group Equality Illinois. “We cannot endanger the LGBT teens of Illinois by attempting to change who they are. … We are making the passage of the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act one of our legislative priorities of the 99th Illinois General Assembly.”
But Daniel Boland, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist with over fifty years of experience, slammed the proposed ban in a letter to the Illinois Family Institute:
“This legislation is an outrageous intrusion into the rights of families,” Boland wrote. “[The sponsors’] ignorance of human psycho-sexual development is abysmal. There is no such thing as a ‘gay’ gene. There may, in some cases, be a pre-disposition to what is called ‘gay-ness’ (although the word ‘gay’ seems an absurd distortion of language, given the relentlessly depressing medical and psychological outcomes experienced by its full-time participants). But in most instances, the choice (it is a choice) of a ‘gay’ lifestyle results from a combination of factors, not from a single, universally determinant gene, as much of the gay community disingenuously preaches.”
“To suggest that counseling, freely chosen as an aid to the choice of a non-‘gay’ lifestyle, is harmful says that no one has the God-given, constitutionally-protected freedom to choose his/her behavior and to accept responsibility for such behavior,” wrote Boland. “Such prohibitive legislation is utterly unconscionable.”