(Photo: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a bill that would ban the controversial practice of sexual orientation change efforts for minors.
Democratic Representative Carl M. Sciortino, Jr., introduced the bill, known as H.154, earlier this year with a hearing being held last week before the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities.
If enacted, H.154 would bar licensed professionals from performing "Sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts" in the state.
"Under no circumstances shall a licensed professional advertise for or engage in sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts with a patient less than 18 years of age. Any licensed professional violating this prohibition shall be such subject to discipline by the board, which may include suspension or revocation of license," reads H. 154 in part.
Sciortino's bill provides an exemption for licensed professionals who "provide acceptance, support, and understanding of an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and the facilitation of an individual's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices…"
Andrew Beckwith, executive vice president for the Massachusetts Family Institute, told The Christian Post that he believed the bill was "an assault on parental rights and religious liberties."
"The reason we oppose this bill is that it is extremely broad. It doesn't even really mention reparative therapy but uses the term 'sexual orientation change efforts,'" said Beckwith.
"When you look at what it does legally, it puts sexual orientation change efforts or just talking with … any counselor who is licensed about changing your orientation or behavior, it puts them in the same category as child abuse when it comes to mandatory reporting."
Beckwith also told CP that his organization does not hold a position on the efficacy of reparative therapy.
Massachusetts is not the first state to consider a law banning minors from undergoing reparative therapy for sexual orientation.
Last year, California passed a law banning the therapy for minors. However, immediately following its passage it was taken to court over its constitutionality.
Earlier this year, the New Jersey Legislature passed a similar bill, but Governor Chris Christie has not decided yet whether he will sign it into law.
When asked by CP if he felt the bill could pass, Beckwith of the MFI responded that he was unsure.
"We are working with pro-family legislators to make sure it doesn't come out of committee," said Beckwith, noting that the hearing for the bill took place last week.
"But the other side had a lot of support there and are being very aggressive about it and they are very well organized."