SPRINGFIELD-A bid to block therapists from engaging in “conversion therapy” with gay, bisexual and transgender youth in order to make them heterosexual failed Thursday in the Illinois House.
The measure, proposed by Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, lost on a 44-51 roll call despite her plea to colleagues to stop gay, bisexual and transgender teens 17 and under from being “horribly and humiliatingly abused.”
“This treatment plan causes depression, causes suicidal actions and is incredibly harmful to children,” said Cassidy, who is openly lesbian and one of the lead architects of Illinois’ same-sex marriage law.
“The practice of conversion therapy is dismissed by every major scientific organization and should not be utilized. There’s not a single scientific basis for one’s sex orientation being a disorder,” she said. “We need to protect our children.”
House Bill 5569 states that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not a disease, and that mental health practitioners should not be treating it as such. Conversion therapy would be considered “unprofessional conduct” under Cassidy’s bill and those who perform it could have their state licenses sanctioned.
Twenty-two House members didn’t vote on her legislation either because they chose not to or decided to begin their two-week break early Thursday. Because the legislation failed to receive 47 votes, Cassidy could not keep her measure alive for another vote.
Critics of the bill included conservative Republicans, who argued state lawmakers lacked the knowledge about whether such therapy works or not and that, ultimately, people should decide what type of professional help is right for them.
“I honestly don’t believe there’s one single individual in this body that’s absolutely able to stand here and say that they know enough about this area to make a decision on what is appropriate or what is not appropriate, “ said Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, who voted against the bill.
“This is not stuff we should be legislating on at all. Let people decide for themselves what they need to have for themselves,” Ives said.