A first-of-its-kind ban on a controversial form of psychotherapy aimed at making gay people straight is speeding through the California statehouse.
Supporters say the legislation, which passed its final Senate committee Tuesday, is necessary because such treatments are ineffective and harmful.
"This therapy can be dangerous,'' said the bill's author Sen. Ted Lieu. He added the treatments can "cause extreme depression and guilt'' that sometimes leads to suicide.
Conservative religious groups emphatically reject that view of sexual orientation therapy and say the ban would interfere with parents' rights to seek appropriate psychological care for their children.
The bill would prohibit so-called reparative therapy for minors and obligate adults to sign a release form that states that the counseling is ineffective and possibly dangerous. It passed the committee 3-1.
The debate comes as gay rights issues take the spotlight around the nation.
Over the weekend, Vice President Joe Biden said he is "absolutely comfortable'' with same-sex couples getting the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Conversion therapy penetrated the national consciousness last year when former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was questioned over whether the Christian counseling business of her husband provided therapies that attempted to change gays and lesbians.
The practice has garnered attention in past years as teens sent by their parents to conversion therapy programs have shared their stories online.
Copyright AP - Associated Press