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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

February 20, 2014 at 4:37 PM

“Ex lesbian” testifies on bill to ban gay-conversion therapy

Robin Goodspeed told the state Senators on Thursday that a bill preventing efforts to change a minor’s sexual orientation implies that she is lying to herself.

The self-described “ex-homosexual, ex-lesbian” testified at a Senate Health Care Committee against House Bill 2451.

Passed in the state House 94-4 last week, the bill would prevent medical practices including so-called reparative or conversion therapies and any other attempts to change a minor’s gender expression or reduce sexual attraction to members of the same sex.

Goodspeed lived most of her adult life as a lesbian but said she wasn’t happy. Therapists told her being gay wasn’t anything she could change.

“What if a person wants to change?” she said.

Goodspeed listed an address in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on the hearing sign-in sheet.

Daniel Cords wanted to change, too. He and his parents were part of a conservative church. When he came out at 14, he started conversion therapy.

“I screamed, I cried, I prayed,” he told committee members in testifying in favor of the bill. “My parents did that alongside me because we both feared for my salvation.”

Cords said the therapy was harmful and ineffective. Later in life, he tried many times to commit suicide.

Former Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo — who sponsored the bill before leaving the House for the Senate in January — said although it’s an emotional topic, the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is a health-care issue at its core.

“I hope that we’re take a look at this as a health-care issue when there’s a treatment that is ineffective and dangerous in many cases,” he said.

For licensed health-care providers, the bill would make it “unprofessional conduct” to conduct sexual orientation change efforts on patients under 18.

Some lawmakers worry preventing licensed medical professionals from practicing sexual orientation change efforts will cause people to seek them elsewhere.

Sen. Randi Becker, an Enumclaw Republican who runs the Senate Health Care Committee, said there’s no planned executive session for the bill. She doesn’t expect there will be as much support for the bill in the Senate.

Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, took over as prime sponsor of the bill when Liias moved to the Senate.

“This is not a partisan issue,” she said. “There are gay Republicans, there are gay Democrats and there are a lot of folks in between.”

Two other states, California and New Jersey, have similar laws.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest, State government, State Legislature | Topics: gay, lesbian, Marko Liias


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