Backers aim to widen ban on gay conversion therapy

By Lisa Leff

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 1 2012 11:05 p.m. MDT

In this undated image taken from video courtesy of KATU 2, Max Hirsh, 22, speaks during an interview in Portland, Ore. Hirsh, who is openly gay, contends an Oregon psychiatrist he was seeing was practicing “conversion therapy” to change his sexual orientation. His experience is the subject of an ethics complaint filed on May 8, 2012, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which plans to take the same action in other states as part of a national campaign to stop therapists from trying to make gay people straight.

KATU 2, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

SAN FRANCISCO — Gay rights advocates are making plans to get other states to join California in banning psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight, even as opponents prepared Monday to sue to overturn the first law in the nation to take aim at the practice.

After months of intense lobbying, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late Saturday that prohibits licensed mental health professionals from using so-called reparative or conversion therapies with clients under age 18. Brown called the therapies "quackery" that "have no basis in science or medicine."

Two New Jersey lawmakers already are drafting similar legislation, while groups that helped get the California law passed are sharing research, witnesses and talking points with counterparts in other gay-friendly states, said Geoff Kors, senior legislative and policy strategist for the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"There are lots of folks today who are looking at this, now that the governor has signed it," Kors said. "We'll be reaching out to all the state (gay rights) groups, especially in states that have had success passing LGBT rights legislation."

The law only applies to licensed therapists, not ministers or lay people who counsel teens to resist same-sex attractions.

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