Will Washington’s “Gay Cure Therapy” Ban Go Through?

In early January, a bill was proposed in the Washington State Legislature that served to put an end to ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBT youth in the state. Licensed therapists would be banned from using this unfounded method or risk being charged with unprofessional conduct, facing probation and even the revocation of their license in certain cases.

This contentious therapy exists across Washington State, although it is rarely advertised in the open. While many religious sects condone such methods, including some conservative Christian groups such as Homosexuals Anonymous, EXIT of Melodyland, and Exodus International, some have stated privately that conversion therapy has proven pointless. The founders of Exodus, Michael and Gary Cooper once conceded that “not one person was healed” by this form of therapy.

On February 13th, Bill 2451 was passed by the House with wide bipartisan support (94-4). Many in attendance mused that this was likely because of the heart-wrenching testimonials given by those who had suffered this therapy as young adults. As participants recounted the cruel nature of this practice, not one person showed up to defend it. The testimonials also featured psychologist Doug Halderman, who has worked to bring to light this unethical treatment for years. Halderman explains, in one of his studies on the subject:

“Were their properties intrinsic to homosexuality that make it a pathological condition, we would be able to observe and measure them directly. In reality, however, there exists a wide literature indicating just the opposite: that gay men and lesbians do not differ significantly from heterosexual men and women on measures of psychological stability, social or vocational adjustment, or capacity for decision making.”

However,  Bill 2451 soon hit a speed bump when it reached the Senate Health Care Committee, headed by Republican Chair Randi Becker. The way the committee functions is that the head (in this case Becker) is allowed to decide which bills receive executive action and which bills get ignored. If the Chair doesn’t want a bill to move forward, they simply keep it off the executive list. This can be overruled by a majority of committee votes, but with Democrats now in the minority, there was not enough support to pull it forward.

By keeping this bill off the list, Randi Becker ensured it would never reach the floor of the Senate. Now the deadline has passed and the bill has essentially gotten stuck in a bureaucratic jumble. “The bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support, because the testimony was so moving. But, sadly we were unable to get the same understanding and empathy from our Republican Senate members,” stated Senator Karen Keiser (D-33rd District).

However, for those who voted against the bill, they cite the First Amendment as the major reason. After all, some argued, shouldn’t therapists have a right to make their own judgments and practice freely? However, this idea assumes that licensed mental health professionals can function with impunity, simply on the basis of their own personal codes. Yet in reality, this has never been an option. Strict adherence to regulations ranging from sexual discourse to confidentiality already exists for licensed mental health practitioners. Banning an ineffective and abusive practice would protect the client, rather than therapists, who while choosing to practice a science, are promoting their own personal faith to distort and damage self-image.

However, despite the holdup, there is a chance Bill 2451 could still be passed later this year. Right now the Democrats hold minority seats in the committees and therefore cannot push a bill through. However, with elections coming up in November, there is a chance that the balance of power could shift. If this happens, the bill’s movement could continue to a vote on the Senate floor. Many legislators are hopeful for this outcome.

However, until then, the more conservative within the Washington State Legislature will do what they can to continue blocking it. Similar laws have passed in New Jersey and California. For Washington State, it may take another year, but with a little help from the voters, residents can look forward to an end to this inhumane therapy once and for all.


Robby K.
Past Member 2 years ago

"Nonetheless, I am man enough to admit that I can't rule out, w/100% certainty, that IF I were brought up in a 100% homosexual environment, that I might not be inclined to be gay- or at least hetero"

Sorry- typo- "hetero" was meant to be "bi." I can't honestly say this in either regard, but still, my positive hopes for you & anyone affected by such things, abound....

Robby K.
Past Member 2 years ago

Tim - W- just checking back b/c it looked like there were more replies. IT looks like a lot are missing b/c I know you & I discussed this a lot more. Now I'm wondering if I've missed anything from you, etc... Either way, from what we've said, I have nothing but respect for you & hope that my manner of speaking & points have not been lost on you. I am as straight as they come. If not, I'd admit it- I have respect for people who come out in such a controversial issue. Nonetheless, I am man enough to admit that I can't rule out, w/100% certainty, that IF I were brought up in a 100% homosexual environment, that I might not be inclined to be gay- or at least hetero. I guess it really depends. I had at first typed- what if someone were brought up in such an environment w/only men around & no exposure to girls. But somehow, there would almost have to be some contact b/t sexes b/c it takes both to make a baby of either sex or sexuality. So, to have boy grow up w/no girls around, etc, would be tough- maybe shipped from another island? LOL! Making light of the situation, but it is real. And I do stand by my hope that people get the help they need, rather it be for sexuality, religious oppression, immigration type, drug use, etc. HELP- not coercion or an attempt to bend to "socially accepted standards." Just my hope.... Take care, my friend!

James Wilcox
James Wilcox2 years ago

@ Tum W: " ... more gay people find themselves being secure about coming out."

Too bad children aren't made to feel so "secure about coming out" of an abusive childhood. There's a lot more abused kids than gay ones.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago

Sigh - I hope, so but it just doesn't seem to get any better.

Tim W.
Timothy W.2 years ago

By the way Robby K. I am in no way attempting to attack or be hostile toward you or you thoughts, only trying to express why I would disagree with you on some issues. I do respect the fact that you qualify the fact that you don't suggest getting help means getting help to be straight. That isn't going to happen. Many young Gay people could you some help accepting who they are however, and more importantly to accept that some people are going to be narrow minded no matter what.

Tim W.
Timothy W.2 years ago

Robby K.
I grew up in a totally heterosexual society. I did not know of anyone gay until I was 18 or older. I had nothing but heterosexual influence. There were no shows depicting gays with the exception of a few depicting poor stereo types. I am still gay, as are all the other gay people who grew up in the same time frame. The only reason one might believe that there are more or will be more gays as society accepts them more would be because more gay people find themselves being secure about coming out. Not because there are actually more gays.

Robby K.
Past Member 2 years ago

...polite discussion in any threads I'm ever a part of. Maybe you should consider only typing here when in a better mood. It's helped me :-)

Michael- funny you mention- a friend of mine (friend, not acquaintance) was married for at least 25yrs- had 2 kids w/the woman. They were recently divorced b/c he is gay. Actually, he would say more 'bisexual.' To me, he's just a smart, respectful, guy w/a good sense of humor regardless of what his sexual preference is.

Alex- I think after my PM, we're more on the same page- but... In the case of "having trouble" b/c of being gay, I didn't mean that so much on a 'trouble w/other people' level but more on an internal confused level. Sure, one can argue that there would be no inner confusion if the person didn't have to deal w/heteros who make them feel less than human. But in the end, society has issues & regardless of reasons, if one is confused, one should have somewhere to go to get help IMO. And I did not mean to imply that they had to become (or lie or act) hetero to be 'fixed.' One can be gay w/out ever having had sex w/someone of the same gender their entire lives. It's what's in one's heart. And this sort of "help" should not be fixated on 'praying out the gay' but rather helping people accept their lifestyle. In the end, one doesn't necessarily even have to pick a side, but they do need to learn to accept themselves for whatever they choose.

Robby K.
Past Member 2 years ago

1- What "enclave" are you speaking of?

2- "By your rationale we should have no homosexuals because for generations all of these so-called homosexuals were raised in "heterosexual enclaves" where " ALL relationships they see, both sexual & friendship, etc, were heterosexual."

Again w/the "enclaves?" And, where do you get this "rationale" you speak of from what I've typed? Where did I even imply that there should be only heteros & no homosexuals.

3- "I am a heterosexual, and exposure to gay people could not change that fact, it couldn't change that fact when I was growing up or otherwise"

Never changed me either. But, Hitler's Dr's(?) learned a LOT about the nature/nurture controversy. How do you know if you were brought up in an COMPLETELY & TOTALLY gay environment (particularly ALL MALE- NEVER ever even SEEING heteros) from birth till 18 (or 21?) that you would NOT be gay? How? Are you SURE?

All I say is, those who want help should get it. IF it guides the person to homosexuality, then... SO BE IT! But help shouldn't be forced on them. But procreation does pick men & women for natural selection b/c the human race would eventually go extinct if EVERYONE were gay. And I don't care one way or the other how gay you, her, or the next guy are, or are not. I simply stand by the fact that a confused individual should be able to get help- now if you're asking if I think that 'help' should be biased, you are wrong. You never seem to chime in for

David W.
David W.2 years ago

Wow, interesting...

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

Tim W

Very true, in fact I had a very dear friend who was married for a man for nearly 2 decades. About 8 years ago he revealed to his wife that he was gay, and he moved to another residence. She worked on helping her kids deal with this sudden shift in their lives.

Eventually, all the unanswered questions left her in so much doubt about a large portion of her life that she could not sufficiently answer, that she eventually took her own life.

I don't blame the ex-husband, as he just couldn't pretend anymore. He was, and had been under a great deal of familial and social pressure to conform and appear to be heterosexual that he played a role for nearly 2 decades in a marriage, and before the marriage just to avoid the stigma, and the oppression from family, friends and society. Society changed by degrees and he finally couldn't "be" that heterosexual male any more and had to come out.

Unfortunately, his ex-wife couldn't deal with a 20 year period of her life suddenly turned upside down.