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Gay conversion therapy bill dies in Legislature

Republicans once again block effort
Colorado Senate Republicans have killed legislation that would have prohibited gay conversion therapy for minors.

DENVER – Colorado Senate Republicans on Monday killed legislation that would have prohibited gay conversion therapy for minors.

The move marks the second time in as many years that Republicans expressed concerns with the bill, worried that prohibiting the practice would regulate free speech.

Conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation. Therapy often is aimed at gender expressions in an effort to reverse same-sex attractions.

The bill would have prohibited the therapy with a patient younger than 18 years old.

“What do you think it must feel like for a young person to be looked at like they’re inherently disordered ...” asked Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, a sponsor of the bill who is gay. “For someone who is under 18 years of age, being forced to go through this practice is a dangerous proposition.”

Supporters of the bill pointed out that gay teens often face more bullying than other teens. Therapy can result in false shame that can lead to suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and depression, say supporters of the bill.

Republicans worried that banning the practice would amount to prohibiting a conversation between two people.

“Despite some of my concerns with how this has been abused, I don’t know how the state goes down a path of regulating conversation,” said Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.

Advocates of the legislation were quick to fire back at Republicans. They said the bill did not receive a fair hearing, noting that it was assigned to a Republican “kill committee” used to end legislation deemed unfavorable by leadership.

The bill had passed the Democratic-controlled House.

“Despite the fact all of Colorado’s leading mental health organizations reject the practice of conversion therapy, the Republican members of the committee chose to disregard the science and testimony of those who came to testify in support of the ban,” said Dave Montez, executive director of One Colorado. “Few practices have hurt LGBT people more than this so-called therapy.”


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