- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2015

Oregon is poised to become the third state that bans state-licensed therapists from providing therapy to children and teens that would help them diminish or escape their same-sex attractions.

The Oregon Senate and House passed their bill against sexual orientation change efforts and sent it to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature this week.

Mrs. Brown, the nation’s first openly bisexual governor, has not said if she will sign the bill, but gay-rights groups are cheering its passage with the expectation that she will sign it.

Mental-health organizations support the bans on therapy for youth, saying trying to “change” people from their sexual orientation is unproven and can be harmful.

Men and women who say they “survived” such change or “reparative” therapy say they were forced to undergo shaming and other unprofessional activities in an a vain effort to convert them to heterosexuality.

President Obama has come out in support of the change-therapy bans being enacted nationwide.

Opponents of the bans — which include many former homosexual men and women — say the therapy solely involves talking and is helpful to young people who have been molested or who are struggling with their sexuality.

The ban opponents also say the laws violate constitutional rights such as speech, association and religious practice. However, appellate courts have not agreed with these arguments, and the Supreme Court has twice refused to review those decisions.

Oregon’s proposed ban, similar to those in California, New Jersey and the District, affect government-licensed counselors.

Oregon’s success in the legislature was due in part to the testimonies of therapy survivors, said Samantha Ames, staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and coordinator for the #BornPerfect campaign, Washington Blade reported.

“Without their willingness to share their stories, sacrifice their privacy, and at times even come face-to-face with the very unethical therapists responsible for their trauma, this legislation would not have passed,” Ms. Ames told the Blade. “We all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, one we can only repay by promising we will continue this fight until the day no child knows the devastation of being told they were born anything but perfect.”

A group that opposes the bans, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), noted that at least six states have considered — and rejected — therapy bans this year, and 15 states did the same last year.

PFOX says it has a program called “Safe Exit,” that provides information for and about people who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion.

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