Washington is the latest state to consider banning the use of conversion therapy for minors, while similar legislation has been approved by a New Jersey senate committee.
A Massachusetts bill banning the therapy for minors will undergo hearings beginning in June and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in April and is expected to make a ruling soon on the constitutionality of a California law that would make the therapy illegal.
The Washington bill would establish a 15-member panel to investigate the effects of sexual orientation conversion therapy and report its findings to the governor by the end of the year.
Washington State Rep. Marko Liias, the sponsor of the legislation, said that conversion therapy has “no basis in science or medicine and it is vital that we bring together the proper health experts to better understand the impacts.” The measure would evaluate current research, identify any potential harm to clients and recommend approaches to protect children.
In New Jersey, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizen Committee voted 7-1 with two abstentions to send the bill banning conversion therapy for minors to the full senate following testimony that included several teenagers who supported the legislation. There was also testimony from several witnesses who opposed the bill.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was quoted as saying he disapproved of conversion therapy, but at the same time, declined to say whether he would sign the legislation if it is approved by the legislature.
In Massachusetts, the bill banning conversion therapy sponsored by State Rep. Carl Sciortino of Medford has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.
In a related development, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality has lost its IRS tax exempt status after failing to file required forms for the last three years. The organization, known as NARTH, has been among the opponents of the conversion therapy ban in California courts.
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