May 19, 2015 at 5:43 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Oregon becomes latest state to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy
Kate Brown, gay news, Washington Blade

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a ban on “ex-gay” therapy into law. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Oregon became the third jurisdiction in the country to ban widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors after Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a bill prohibiting the practice on Monday.

Brown, the nation’s first openly bisexual governor, signed the bill, House Bill 2307, after the Oregon Senate approved the measure on May 7 by a 21-8 vote. The bill was already passed by the House on March 17 by a vote 41-18.

Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, applauded Brown for “taking this important step.”

“We hope Oregon will prove to be just the first of many states to ban this harmful and discredited practice that uses rejection, shame and psychological abuse aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” Byard said. “Studies conducted by major mental health organizations and personal testimony from LGBT youth have shown that conversion therapy can create dangerous and even life-threatening effects, including depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and suicidal behavior.”

Brown’s office confirmed to the Washington Blade she signed the bill into law, but provided no further comment.

Danni/y Rosen, chair of GLSEN Oregon, also praised Brown.

“GLSEN Oregon thanks the legislature and governor for protecting LGBT youth in Oregon from the detrimental effects of conversion therapy,” Rosen said. “This law moves us one step closer to ensuring that all students in Oregon are safe and affirmed both in and out of school.”

Oregon will join three other jurisdictions — California, New Jersey and D.C. — that have already enacted bans on “ex-gay” therapy for minors. The laws in California and New Jersey have also been upheld as constitutional by circuit courts with jurisdiction over those states.

The day after Brown signed the legislation in Oregon, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced the first-ever legislation in Congress that would ban “ex-gay” therapy nationwide by classifying the practice as fraud. The White House had previously advocated a state-by-state approach to the issue, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday the administration welcomes congressional efforts ban to “ex-gay” therapy.

Oregon isn’t the only state this week to act against the practice. On Tuesday, the Illinois House passed by a vote of 68-43 a similar measure that would ban the practice for minors in that state. The measure, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), now heads to the Senate, where approval will send the measure to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner. It’s unknown whether the Republican will sign the bill.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, hailed the passage of the legislation in the House and said momentum continues.

“Ending conversion therapy is our top priority in the legislature right now,” Cherkasov said. “Trying to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity, should not be attempted because it risks the health of LGBT youth.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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