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A Landmark Bill Could Ban Gay Conversion Therapy For Adults AND Kids

"We don’t let convenience stores sell fake lottery tickets. We shouldn’t let a handful of sham therapists tell Californians that they can change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."

California may soon become the first state to ban conversion therapy for people of all ages.

On April 19, lawmakers in Sacramento passed bill AB 2943, which would outlaw the fraudulent treatment for adults. (The state outlawed conversion therapy on minors in 2012). But openly gay representative Evan Low, who introduced the measure in the State Assembly, is taking a unique approach: He's aiming to get the practice discredited under California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

Lawyers in New Jersey used a similar tactic in 2015 to shutter Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a Jewish conversion therapy clinic. (The group has reportedly been operating under a new name.)

Cosponsored by the Trevor Project and Equality California, AB 2943 cites "overwhelming empirical evidence" that establishes conversion therapy as ineffective and psychologically harmful. Since the state Assembly has approved the measure, it now heads to the Senate before moving to Governor Jerry Brown's desk.

San Diego Coalition Against Gay Conversion/Facebook

"We don’t let convenience stores sell fake lottery tickets... and we shouldn’t let a handful of sham therapists tell Californians that they can change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity," says Equality California director Rick Zbur. "They can't. And this so-called 'therapy' causes damaging psychological harm."

The measure comes as more and more states are outlawing reparative therapy for minors: This month, Maryland became the 11th state to do so. “This is a discredited practice, and we’re just trying to align our law to that degree,” Del. Rich Madaleno, who authored the Maryland law, told The Washington Post in March.

Debate over a proposed ban in Maine became heated, with legislators shouting over each other and House Speaker House Speaker Sarah Gideon being forced to recite the House rules of decorum.