It’s comforting to know that at times when states are amending their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage and and when homophobia is inspiring unnecessary boycotts, there are some measures being taken to end the pain and discrimination against the LGBT community.
Yesterday, the California Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would ban gay-to-straight conversion therapy. S.B. 1172 will now head to the Senate floor and, if approved, would make California the first state in the country to ban this form of “therapy.”
The bill would prohibit therapists from administering this “treatment” to minors or to adults who have not given written consent that acknowledges that the therapy is both ineffectual and possibly dangerous.
Conversion therapy can be traced back to the early 20th century in the United States, when it was widely believed that homosexuality was a mental illness. It wasn’t until 1973, after intense criticism from gay activists and advancements in the study of psychotherapy, that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a mental disorder.
In 2001, famed psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer published a study that suggested that homosexuality could realistically be cured with therapy. Spitzer retracted his study in 2012–a topic addressed on “The Rachel Maddow Show” last month (video below, featuring past “MHP” guest Kenji Yoshino, an NYU law professor).
Of course, this news must come as a disappointment to North Carolina pastor Sean Harris, who recently preached that parents needed to beat children who are or may be gay. But I think this bill is a major step toward protecting the rights of the LGBT community, and could set a national precedent to encourage acceptance and equality for all.