Colorado Senate approves a bill banning gay conversion therapy

The bill will head back to the House before it’s sent to Gov. Jared Polis, who’s expected to sign it.

Inside the Colorado State Capitol, April 2, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Inside the Colorado State Capitol, April 2, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

A bill banning conversion therapy across Colorado is a step closer to becoming law after the Senate on Monday voted to pass the bill, which would ban licensed professional from the discredited practice of attempting to “cure” LGBTQ youth.

The bill is headed back to House, which already approved it in February, for approval after the bill was amended in the Senate. It’s expected to pass in that chamber before ending up on the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who said during his gubernatorial campaign that he would seek to abolish the practice statewide. Polis is the country’s first out gay man elected governor.

Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg of Boulder, a Democrat (and a member of Denverite’s first Who’s Next: Politics class), was the bill’s prime sponsor. The bill passed by a 21-13 vote in the Senate on Monday and had bipartisan support, including from Republican state Sens. Don Coram of Montrose, Kevin Priola of Henderson and Jack Tate of Centennial.

Republican support was critical, and similar bills failed in previous sessions after GOP lawmakers voted against it. Fenberg noted in a release from the LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado that conversion therapy is not backed by science and is harmful to LGBTQ youth.

“There is nothing to ‘fix,'” Fenberg said in the release. “They should not feel ashamed of who they are. After working for years to pass this bill, I am proud that we are finally going to protect our LGBT youth and ban the dangerous practice of conversion once in for all in Colorado.”

One Colorado executive director Daniel Ramos said in the release he applauded the General Assembly for their bipartisan support.

“It is my sincere hope that, with this being the fifth time this measure has been introduced in the Colorado legislature, this will be the year Colorado says ‘no more’ and bans a practice on minors that is based on the false claim that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured,” Ramos said in the release. “This is a critical step that affirms that Colorado continues to be a state for all.”

The Denver City Council in January unanimously approved a ban on conversion therapy, though officials aren’t aware of practitioners of this so-called therapy operating in the city and county.

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