- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A California congresswoman has asked a federal agency to investigate therapists’ claims about sexual-orientation “reparative” or “conversion” therapy.

“Being transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual is not a disease to be cured or a mental illness that requires treatment,” Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, wrote to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez on Wednesday.

Ms. Speier asked the agency to look into advertising claims by therapists to determine whether their practices are “unfair or deceptive.”

Ms. Speier said she has heard from former patients that they were forced to “snap themselves with a rubber band” or receive “electric shocks” or “intense heat” as part of the efforts to dissuade them from their same-sex attractions.

California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia currently ban licensed therapists from offering sexual-orientation change efforts to minors.

A similar bill is at the desk of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

SEE ALSO: Oregon set to become 3rd state to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy for minors

Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett said the administration supports therapy bans for minors nationwide.

However, numerous state legislatures have considered — and rejected — such legislation, note change-therapy supporters, including Voice of the Voiceless and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX).

This is because lawmakers have also heard from former homosexuals and others who have benefited from the therapy, PFOX officials and others say.

Also, they argue, the bans interfere with therapists’ right to free speech, and people’s rights to seek the therapies of their choice.

Ms. Speier’s request to the FTC is itself misleading, said Christopher Doyle, director of the International Healing Foundation and leader of the #TherapyEquality campaign of Equality And Justice For All.

Unlike the outdated approaches she cited, “the sexual identity-affirming therapy I and my colleagues practice uses mainstream therapeutic techniques to help clients resolve conflicts and reach their goals,” said Mr. Doyle. A century of scientific research “shows sexuality is fluid and can change for some clients who experience conflicts over their unwanted attractions,” he added.

Separately, a consumer-protection trial on the therapy is set to begin soon in New Jersey.

Several gay men and some of their mothers, represented by lawyers with the Southern Poverty Law Center, are suing a Jewish organization for making false claims about their ability to change people’s sexuality from gay to straight.

Lawyers for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing counter that JONAH is a faith-based group that seeks to help people struggling with sexual and gender issues to bring their lives into conformity with their own values.

The case, Ferguson v. JONAH, is scheduled to begin in early June before New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr.

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