#Coleg Notebook: No ‘pray the gay away,’ no teen pregnancy prevention

House bans conversion therapy 

The American Psychiatric Association officially began opposing “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, the the psychological practice that tries to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals, back in 1998. Exodus International, the oldest and largest institution in the Christian ex-gay movement, said sorry and shut its doors in 2013. And this year, openly gay lawmaker Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, proposed a bill to ban licensed mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy.

The bill occasioned the kind of “How okay is gay? debate that the Capitol hasn’t seen since 2013, when civil unions legislation won passage after years of ugly defeat. Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, argued that lawmakers should defend the right to fight being gay.

“Does a minor have the right to come to a therapist and say ‘I have unwanted sexual attractions. I know this is not going to take me down a good road in my life’s path?” asked Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, arguing against the ban. “If a therapist wants to honor your wishes to pursue happiness in this way, it would risk their license… Say someone comes and says ‘I want to have my own biological children. Can you help me learn to set this attraction on the shelf, not change it, not diminish it, so that I can pursue a path that is more in keeping with my ultimate goals in life?'”

Supporters of the bill, particularly members of the LGBTQ caucus, retorted that gay people can have kids and that the pursuit of happiness means being who you are, not winning a fight against it every day.

“I found my happiness by being who I am,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, when the bill came up for a final vote on Tuesday. “But this bill isn’t about me, or any members of the LGBT caucus here. You see, we all made it. We survived. This bill is for the number of kids who don’t make it. Because trusted adults tell them that there is something wrong with them, that who they are is wrong and not good enough. That they will never be happy. That they need to change. Adults who should know better… Sexual orientation isn’t a choice. It’s not something that can be cured, because it’s not a sickness.”

Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, joined the 34 Democrats in the House passed the ban. It now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.


This sounds like Planned Parenthood

Tuesday lesson: Support for any bill on reproductive rights still can fall apart at any stage of the legislative process in Denver. Everything cracked and dissolved like a melting glacier for HB 1079 in the Senate Finance Committee hearing. The bill would have provided public funding and statewide expansion for a Western Slope program that offers year-round support and education about responsible choices to Medicaid-eligible teens. The program has proven successful at reducing teen pregnancy without the political hang-up of directly offering contraception.

The bill is sponsored by Democrats and Republicans. Senate President Pro Tem Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, is the Senate sponsor. The bill had bipartisan sponsorship in the House and passed on a hearty 46-19 vote there, but an opponent testified at Tuesday’s hearing that the program, known for years as “Get Real,” has the same name as a Planned Parenthood-sponsored program in Massachusetts.

Roberts and the folks who run the Colorado’s “Get Real” all testified that the two really, really are totally unrelated. But the damage had been done. Questions from Committee Chair Tim Neville, R-Littleton, got pointy. The bill failed on a party-line vote.

It’s not a good omen for a more controversial bipartisan teen pregnancy bill still in the works, which offers long-acting reversible birth control to at-risk teens.


Senate GOP takes leaf out of Everytown’s book

Following the party-line passage of the 15-round magazine ban repeal on Monday, Senate Republicans are making moves to keep the momentum going. They’re rolling in the Senate. Swing-district Democrats Sens. Kerry Donovan from Vail, Cheri Jahn from Wheat Ridge and Leroy Garcia from Pueblo have all agreed to co-sponsor the repeal.

But an identical repeal has already died in a House committee. Republicans in both chambers have said that their major goal is to get the repeal heard on the House floor, which means applying pressure to Democratic Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst to assign the measure to a committee where it isn’t guaranteed to fail.

Pro-gun control group Everytown saw some big wins this year when it ran online petitions to get retailers like Chipotle to ban firearms at their premises. It now appears Senate leadership has taken a leaf out of the leverage-via-digital-populism playbook:

Photo by Will Choi


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