Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives launched an effort on Tuesday to outlaw the dangerous practice of "ex-gay" conversion therapy nationwide. The treatment programs -- which attempt to reverse a person's sexual orientation through prayer and other religious activities -- are not only ineffective but have been shown to cause significant harm to the LGBTQ people upon whom it is practiced.
The Washington Blade reported that Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) in the House and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would outlaw the so-called therapy as a consumer scam that does not deliver what it promises to clients.
“On this and so many other issues impacting the LGBTQ community, the Trump Administration has laid out a hateful, damaging agenda to undo hard-won progress, divide our communities, hurt our friends, neighbors, and family members just because of who they are or who they love,” Murray said in a statement. “This is absolutely the wrong direction for our country -- and I will continue to push for ways to make sure all people, regardless of who they are or who they love, are treated equally and with respect.”
She was joined in sponsoring the bill by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Corey Booker (D-NJ). Booker was one of the co-sponsors of the first iteration of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which was introduced to the previous Congress but never came to a floor vote.
"First introduced in the previous Congress, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act would clarify that 'conversion therapy' in exchange for monetary compensation, as well as advertising of such services, is fraud and illegal under the authority of Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, the bill would empower state attorneys general with the authority to enforce the ban in federal court," said the Blade.
PinkNews.co.uk said that conversion therapy is already illegal inWashington, D.C. and in seven states -- California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and New Mexico.
Former "ex-gay" patients not only say that the treatments didn't change their orientation, they resulted in feelings of paralyzing guilt, depression, despair and suicidal ideation. Critics say that the practice amounts to a form of child abuse when practiced on minors. The American Psychological Association (APA) has denounced conversion therapy as quack science and religious dogma masquerading as therapeutic practice.
Many LGBTQ Americans are concerned that the White House will continue in its effort to roll back their recent gains by implementing a so-called "Religious Freedom" executive order. Conservative Christians hope that these laws will allow them the leeway to continue to discriminate on the basis of sexual or gender orientation with impunity so long as they are doing it for religious reasons.
One such order was reportedly in the works earlier in the Trump administration but was quashed in the eleventh hour, some say thanks to Ivanka Trump's influence on her father President Donald Trump. However, there have been recent rumblings that the president is again considering implementing the order.