Oregon Gov. to Sign Law Banning Sexual Orientation Change Therapy for Gay Minors; Christian Ministries Say Law Will Have Negative Impact on 'Religious Liberties'

(Photo: Reuters/Pichi Chuang)Participants hold giant rainbow flags during the Taiwan LGBT pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan, October 25, 2014. Thousands of Taiwanese gathered with people from Hong Kong, Korea and Japan on Saturday for the annual gay pride parade which is in its twelfth year, according to organizers.

Oregon is expected to join California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia in enacting a ban on sexual orientation change efforts therapy for gay minors.

The Oregon Senate voted 21-8 Thursday to pass HB 2307, the so-called "Youth Mental Health Protection Act" and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign it into law.

Over the past couple years, efforts across the nation have been made at the state level to ban conversion therapy, which is also called reparative therapy or sexual orientation change efforts therapy.

HB 2307 was pushed by LGBT activist groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, Basic Rights Oregon, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The bill, however, garnered criticism from groups that argue the legislation is based on a false portrayal of SOCE therapy and interferes with the right of minors to seek out treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction.

Teresa Harke of the Christian advocacy nonprofit Oregon Family Council testified that the bill is "too broad and may have unintended consequences for religious liberties."

"We are concerned how this bill would affect a licensed counselor's work under the ministry of the church," Harke asserted during testimony given before lawmakers in February.

Jason Thompson, an ex-gay who's the executive director of Portland Fellowship, a Christian ministry that provides SOCE therapy, also testified during a hearing on HB 2307, and told Oregon Live that the goal of the therapy "is not to become straight, ... The whole goal is to become the authentic person God intended them to become."

In a statement shared with The Christian Post in March, the ex-gay group Equality and Justice for All described support for HB 2307 as "particularly unconscionable" since "minors often struggle with same-sex attractions as a result of rape or molestation by pedophiles."

"To propagate their lies, gay activists have made outrageous claims that this therapy involves electroshock and other forms of aversive methods, but they have yet to offer any proof of this. Contrary to their claims, this counseling is simply talk therapy," said Chris Doyle of EAJFA.

"Homosexual activists would rather keep these young people locked in a lifetime of hopelessness — and silence — than allow them to find healing from rape or molestation."

Samantha Ames, staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights and coordinator of the #BornPerfect Campaign, countered advocates of SOCE therapy and argued that HB 2307 was a "lifesaving law."

"This lifesaving law will protect the health and well-being of LGBT youth in Oregon and ensure that licensed mental health professionals cannot abuse their position of trust to do lifelong harm to children and tear families apart," Ames claimed in a statement for NCLR.

In March the House passed HB 2307 with a vote of 41 to 18. All but seven of the yes votes were Democrats and all the no votes were Republicans.

Days later, HB 2307 was sent to the Senate, which referred it to the Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood before going to back to the chamber for a vote to pass the bill.