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California Legislature Passes Nation's First Bill Banning Gay 'Conversion Therapy

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"These attempts are quackery and this kind of psychological abuse of children must stop."

California's state legislature this week passed a first-of-its-kind ban on controversial therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youth straight, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The fate of the legislation banning so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy" for minors -- even if their parents request it -- now rests with Gov. Jerry Brown (D). He has not taken a public position on the issue. The legislation passed in the California assembly on Tuesday and a final version was approved by the state Senate Thursday.

If signed, the law would apply only to licensed psychologists and professional therapists, not counseling offered by religious groups, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Supporters of the measure say conversion therapy is ineffective and can contribute to depression and even suicide among LGBT youth.

“These attempts are quackery and this kind of psychological abuse of children must stop,” said state Sen. Ted Lieu (D), the bill's author.

Several openly gay lawmakers cited their own personal experiences while championing the bill during a floor debate, Reuters reported.

"One of our No. 1 priorities in this house is to protect the next generation of Californians," Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D) said. "And some of those are sissy boys. And some of those sissy boys grow up to be assembly members. And some of those sissy boys need help. And we are here to stand with those sissy boys."

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality has vowed to challenge the legislation in court if Brown signs it into law, calling it a "dangerous trend toward limiting the right of families to seek mental health care for some aspects of their children’s lives."

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, sent a letter to Brown urging him to sign the legislation.

“Your support for SB1172 would send a strong message to LGBT youth everywhere that their lives are valuable and they are perfect just the way they are," Griffin wrote, according to the Chronicle.

Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to take effect without his signature on Jan. 1.

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