Bill to Ban 'Reparative Therapy' for Minors Nears Vote in Calif.; Controversy Remains

The California state Assembly is set to vote on a controversial measure known as Senate Bill 1172 that would prohibit psychologists and other mental health professionals from attempting to change the sexual orientation of anyone 18 or younger.

The bill was initially introduced by Democratic state Senator Ted Lieu in February of this year. According to the bill's summary, "The bill would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject the provider to discipline by the provider's licensing authority."

The bill's specific intent is to outlaw what is commonly known as "reparative therapy," or the attempt to reverse homosexual or bisexual tendencies.

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"This therapy can be dangerous," Lieu told ABC News in early May. "I want parents to understand that this therapy is crazy."

Reparative therapy has been under the microscope for years and proponents on both sides of the argument tend to rely on studies that support their positions while discounting reports that suggest the opposite may be true.

In an interview with The Christian Post in June, David Pruden, VP of Operations for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), said the bill's rapid movement in the California legislature was not surprising.

"Considering the strength of the gay political, fundraising efforts in electing California legislators we were not surprised," said Pruden. "We were grateful that the many thousands of emails, letters, and phone calls seemed to influence the author of the bill to amend the legislation five different times removing some of the most clearly unconstitutional provisions."

Pruden went on to say that most of his organization's psychologists treat adult patients and that the bill should have minimal impact.

Yet Lieu and his supporters – both inside and outside of the California legislature – point to Christians and former Christians who struggled with homosexual tendencies who have renounced the practice of reparative therapy.

Alan Chambers heads up Exodus International, an organization dedicated to helping those who have engaged in a homosexual lifestyle find freedom in Christ. Once a supporter of therapy techniques that "cured" homosexuality, Chambers has caused quite a stir in evangelical circles by reversing his earlier thoughts on the therapy.

"I think counseling is a wonderful tool for anybody regardless of what struggle they bring to the table," Chambers said in an interview with CP in mid-June. "I think we can all use a little bit of counseling on planet earth today. But when it comes to reparative therapy, the reason we have distanced ourselves from it is because some of the things that they employ and some of the messages that I've heard from reparative therapists with regards to what someone can expect once they get through that type of therapy."

Chambers recalled making a comment on national TV saying he still struggled with homosexual tendencies and was later contacted by a therapist who offered a 100 percent cure.

He added that the only true way to escape addiction is through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. "It says in this world you will have trouble in John 16:33 but take heart you can have peace in me because I've overcome the world. I think for believers you know we are helping people pursue holiness through a relationship with Christ, through biblical community in their local church, through honesty and transparency, sharing what it is that troubles them, being accountable."

The full Senate passed the bill on May 30 by a vote of 23-13 and now the bill has been making its way through the lower body. If approved by the full assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Golden State would be the first to pass such a law.

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