Oregon could become the next state to ban gay conversion therapy for LGBT youth. The Oregon House has already passed the measure, and the Senate will vote on it on Thursday.
The bill would prohibit mental health professionals and social workers from using the therapy, which involves trying to change a child's sexual orientation. On Tuesday, the Oregon Senate Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood heard testimony from conversion therapy survivors and religious groups who claim the practice is effective and that banning it would be an infringement on First Amendment rights and parental choice.
However, the American Psychological Association opposes conversion therapy, and it's widely condemned because it can lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide among LGBT young people.
California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have already passed laws banning gay conversion therapy. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama condemned the practice, addressing a WhiteHouse.gov petition that called for a ban after transgender teen Leelah Alcorn committed suicide. Alcorn, who identified as female, had posted online that religious therapists tried to tell her she was a boy.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 18 states, including Oregon, have introduced similar pieces of legislation in the past year. However, in Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland and Virginia, the bills floundered either in committee or when put to a vote.
The prospects are a bit more promising in a few other states, including New York. On Wednesday, the New York State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill banning gay conversion therapy. The measure now moves to the state's Senate.