DENVER — A Colorado ban on gay conversion therapy for minors is a long way from the legislative finish line, but it cleared its ceremonial first hurdle Tuesday when the Democratic majority voted it out of its first committee.
House Bill 1245 passed the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee on a party-line vote, and once it passes the Democratic-led House, Senate Republicans will kill it in committee.
In each of the past three legislative sessions, the bill’s sponsors and LGBTQ advocates have asked to ban the practice, sometimes called reparative therapy, that seeks to discourage children who think they’re gay. Opponents say it’s cruel and crushes young people’s self-esteem. The practice has been banned in other states and rejected by psychological organizations.
Republicans maintain that it’s not the government’s role to tell people how to raise their kids and get the psychological services they think are appropriate.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Paul Rosenthal of Denver and Dafna Michaelson Jenet of Commerce City, with Sens. Stephen Fenberg of Boulder and Lucia Guzman of Denver.
“We have a responsibility to protect Colorado children from the harmful and discredited practice of what they call gay conversion therapy,” Rosenthal said in a statement. “The nation’s leading mental health associations warn against the dangers of this practice, and studies have shown that minors being subjected to this therapy run an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide.”
Michaelson Jenet added, “It’s been the 21st century for quite awhile now, and it’s time for us to love our children for who they are, not try to turn them into someone they aren’t.”
One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, applauded the committee majority’s work.
“The harmful, discredited practice of conversion therapy uses rejection, shame and psychological abuse to force young people to try to change who they are,” Daniel Ramos, One Colorado’s executive director, said in a statement. “As we heard in testimony today from survivors of conversion therapy, many LGBTQ young people are coerced and subjected to these harmful practices, which put them at a higher risk for depression, substance abuse and suicide.
“No young person should ever be shamed by a mental health professional into thinking that who they are is wrong. We are hopeful House Bill 1245 will progress through the legislature with bipartisan support.”