‘Pray the Gay Away’ Therapy Ban Stuck in State Senate
Until 1973, homosexuality was medically classified as a mental disorder. The vestige of that fundamentally wrong notion — that same-sex attraction is an illness to be cured — lives on in the fringes of psychology through the practice of “gay conversion therapy.”
In the coming weeks, Washington should become the third state to ban such “treatments” for minors. A bill in the Legislature, HB 2451, is hung up in the Senate Health Care Committee. Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, told The Seattle Times last week she didn’t plan to put the measure up for a vote, and there wasn’t sufficient support in the Senate. Without a vote, the bill dies this week.
That’s a mistake.
Gay conversion therapy, also called reparative therapy, is premised on the idea that sexual orientation is mutable, and that young gays and lesbians can be made into heterosexuals, often via religious counseling (hence the derisive title of “pray the gay away” therapy). The practice has a grim history; methods for forcing conversion include electroshock and ice water baths, administered while the patient watched gay porn. In legislative testimony, Daniel Cords of Seattle said he tried suicide “more times than I could count” after being forced into reparative therapy by fundamentalist parents.