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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 7, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 31
DelBene would ban 'conversion therapy'
Section One
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DelBene would ban 'conversion therapy'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene debuted a federal bill to ban so-called 'conversion therapy' in an August 3 press conference at a Seattle youth shelter.

DelBene is a cosponsor of the Therapy Fraud Prevention Act, which would classify conversion therapy - sometimes also called 'reparative therapy' or 'ex-Gay' therapy - as consumer fraud under the Federal Trade Commission Act.

'Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, don't need a cure - they need equality under the law,' DelBene said.

'This legislation is an important step towards protecting the LGBT community and their families from the fraudulent promise of conversion,' she added.

Since the bill only affects for-profit therapy, it does not interfere with religious institutions or First Amendment freedom of speech protections, she continued.

'There's an overwhelming consensus among medical, education, social work and mental health professionals that conversion therapy doesn't work,' DelBene said. 'Instead it increases the likelihood of depression, self-harm and suicide, particularly in minors.'

DelBene was joined at the press conference by Daniel Cords, who was subjected to conversion therapy as a teenager. Cords came out to his parents at age 14, but their membership in a conservative church made them hostile to his sexual orientation, he said.

His parents sincerely believed he was mired in sin but could be saved from himself, Cords said.

'In a panic my parents tried to save me from myself and they enrolled me in conversion therapy,' Cords said. 'Everything about me was wrong, everything about me was unclean, and if I tried hard enough I could fix myself because all things were possible through Christ.'

Cords said that as hard as he tried, he could not change who he was as a person.

'I was so confused and scared I slipped into terrible depression because I could not change, and I thought I had become a lost cause,' Cords said. 'I had become worthless in the eyes of this therapy.'

Cords added that he has forgiven his parents, who he considers victims of an industry that flourishes on false messages of conversion.

'I can only imagine the regret they must now feel after we have rebuilt our relationship and now that they have learned how abusive and damaging conversion therapy is,' Cords said.

Washington State Sen. Marko Liias, who represents a state legislative district in DelBene's congressional district, has introduced a similar bill in the state Legislature, but it has been blocked in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Jody Waits, director of communications of YouthCare, which manages Orion Youth Shelter where the press conference took place, added that up to half of Seattle's homeless youth are LGBT and are on the streets because parents or caretakers refused to accept their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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