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Aversion therapy ban passes House

GOP objects to talk therapy restrictions

OLYMPIA -- Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, offers an amendment to change a bill that would ban aversion therapy as a practice to convince gay youth to become heterosexual. The amendment was defeated and the bill passed despite GOP opposition. (Jim Camden)
OLYMPIA -- Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, offers an amendment to change a bill that would ban aversion therapy as a practice to convince gay youth to become heterosexual. The amendment was defeated and the bill passed despite GOP opposition. (Jim Camden)

OLYMPIA — The House moved to ban aversion therapy that some believe can change homosexual orientation and others contend is dangerous and ineffective. It passed a revised version of a Senate bill that extends the ban from physical treatments like ice baths and shock therapy to “talk therapy” in which counselors try to change someone’s sexual orientation.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, led an unsuccessful effort by GOP members to defeat those revisions, saying they were an unconstitutional infringement on free speech and interfere with the patient-counselor relationship.

“Shock therapy and ice baths, we all think those are bad things,” Shea said. But the state shouldn’t get involved in the counselor-patient relationship.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said she regularly meets with a group of gay and lesbian adults and hardly a week goes by without a new person coming to the group and relating stories of aversion therapy. While some stories are of the physical treatments, others tell of “really aggressive types of talk therapy,” she said.

“It has long-lasting, lifetime negative effects,” Jinkins said. “It doesn’t convert anybody. It doesn’t work.”

The bill passed 60-37 with Spokane area Republicans Susan Fagan, Jeff Holy, Joel Kretz, Bob McCaslin, Kevin Parker, Joe Schmick Shelly Short and Shea voting no and Democrats Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli voting yes. It will be returned to the Senate, which unanimously approved the bill in its earlier form but must vote on whether to agree to the change.

 

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