Conversion-therapy ban killed again in a divided legislature

A bill to ban so-called pray-the-gay-away therapy died again under the dome of a divided Capitol for the second year in a row.

From The Associated Press:

Colorado is not joining at least six states that ban or limit psychotherapy which seeks to change the sexual orientation of minors.

In March, the bill to ban state-licensed therapists from the practice had made its way out of the Democratically controlled House in Colorado after hours of emotional testimony from people on both sides of the issue. One common theme among them: suicide.

Here’s a sampling of two personal stories The Colorado Independent chronicled during that March hearing.

Brad Allen was 31 when he planned to stage his suicide to look like an accident. He wouldn’t leave a note.

“I would just leave a destroyed car and another dead, gay Christian,” he told a bipartisan panel of a dozen Colorado lawmakers in an hours-long hearing Tuesday at the Capitol. He’d planned his suicide because he was a gay man in a Christian conservative family who had gone through therapy and had been told his homosexuality was pathological, something he needed to fix.

Allen never went through with the staged suicide. Instead, he came out to the world as gay. And so he was excommunicated from the church where he was a pastor. His friends ostracized him.

“I’ve worked tirelessly to rid myself of the shame that nearly robbed me of my life and help others understand that there is no belief that is worth their lives,” he said. “I pray daily that the deadly and discredited practice of conversion therapy would be banned forever so that LGBTQ people can stop hating themselves, shaming themselves and killing themselves in the name of therapy.”

Robin Goodspeed was a child in the 1950s when she says a pedophile babysitter abused her. She doesn’t believe she was born gay, but the experience led her to choose homosexuality. When she sought help for addiction and suicidal depression in the ’80s and ’90s, her therapists all told her she was born gay and would have to live with it.

“That was a lie,” Goodspeed told the same panel of lawmakers Tuesday. “Back then therapists told me just to love my lesbian self and I’d be happy. I embraced that lie and lived my entire adult life as an out lesbian.”

But she wasn’t happy, and instead she learned to manage her misery. She was still suicidal, and she looked for a therapist who would help her “recover” her “real self.” And so now Goodspeed is an ex-lesbian who was “freed from the homosexual life” that she lived as an adult “by the grace of God and the power of Jesus Christ.”

“What I want to know is why the state of Colorado wants to make the help that I needed back then so desperately illegal?” she asked the lawmakers. “Why does Colorado condemn children already traumatized by sexual predators to the pain, depression, addiction, disease and suicide that often go with homosexuality?”

We also wrote this:

In another year of divided government in Colorado, it’s likely the legislation and testimony will end up a symbolic gesture where the bill passes the Democratically controlled House and dies again in the Senate.

This week that’s exactly what happened when a Republican controlled Senate panel killed the bill.

Photo credit: Vic, Creative Commons, Flickr