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Will Colorado finally ban conversion therapy in 2019?


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On Jan. 24, Democrats introduced a massively important bill into the Colorado House of Representatives for the fifth year in a row, a bill that will soon be considered by the committee of Public Health Care & Human Services. HB-1129 would prohibit conversion therapy (also called “reparative therapy”) for minors, meaning any physician or mental health care provider in the state of Colorado who attempted to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity through therapy could face disciplinary action. Conversion therapy often includes talk therapy, but such damaging practices as electro-shock are still in limited use. The practice has been widely discredited by nearly every major medical organization and association in America.

In previous years, we have been optimistic but not unrealistic in our hopes that a ban like this might make it through both the House and Senate. In 2018, it passed the House, but the Senate immediately sent it to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs committee — the “kill committee” — where it quietly died once again.

As we wrote last year: "We likely won't see this bill pass until Democrats control the Senate. Currently, Republicans have the majority by one vote, which is enough to bury bills that don't adhere to Republican agendas. (Of course, the House managed to muster bi-partisan support for this one. What the hell, Senate?) But, well, fifth time's the charm, especially if Democrats take the majority in the November election."

Well, guess what happened in November? Since Democrats have taken control of both the House and the Senate, this bill’s prospects (and many others we’ve had our eyes on) look a little brighter.

However, with some folks unwilling to wait for the state to make up its mind, we’ve already seen progress on a municipal level. In December of 2018, the city of Denver vowed to ban conversion therapy for minors in Denver city limits. City Council approved the ban before the end of the year.

In a press release, One Colorado executive director Daniel Ramos said: “No young person should ever be shamed by a medical or mental health professional into thinking that who they are is wrong and needs to be changed. HB19-1129 will ensure young people receive mental health care that is ethical and affirming. This is the year we will ban conversion therapy in Colorado. We will be a model for the rest of the country on what this legislation can look like moving forward for other states.”

As of this writing, 15 states and the District of Columbia have put conversion therapy bans in place, including many more cities, counties and municipalities. Colorado may very well be next on that list.

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