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Rep. Karen Clark plans to introduce bill banning ex-gay therapy

A year after they teamed up on a marriage equality bill, Dibble and Clark might combine forces in the name of GLBT rights once again this session.
A year after they teamed up on a marriage equality bill, Dibble and Clark might combine forces in the name of GLBT rights once again this session.

According to a release distributed by Change.org, Rep. Karen Clark, D-Minneapolis, plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming legislative session that would make Minnesota the third state (following New Jersey and California) to ban the type of therapy Marcus Bachmann made famous -- ex-gay therapy.

RELATED: Anoka-Hennepin school board says 'no' to ex-gay therapy

It's likely a companion bill would be pushed in the Senate by openly gay Sen. Scott Dibble, D-Minneapolis, who earlier this year told City Pages, "These therapies are premised on a falsehood... We all know that you can't change people."

Clark's bill was drafted with the help of Alec Fischer, a young Minneapolis resident who authored a Change.org petition calling on legislators to "protect children from dangerous anti-gay conversion therapy." His petition has been signed by more than 75,000 people as of this morning.

In the petition, Fischer tells his story. Here's an excerpt:

Growing up as a gay male in Minnesota I have experienced many forms of discrimination due to my sexual orientation. I was bullied horrifically in middle school for being perceived as gay, and like many people who experience bullying, the problem got so bad that I attempted suicide.

Thankfully, when I got to high school, I was fortunate enough to come out to peers and family members who loved and accepted me for who I was. But we know this is not the case for many other youth who identify as LGBT in our state and across the country. That's why I want my state to take a stand for LGBT youth, and ban "ex-gay" conversion therapy.

Gay conversion therapy is a discredited practice in which youth are subjected to psychologically damaging "treatment" by psychologists and counselors who falsely claim they can "fix" the sexual orientation of children who identify as being LGBT.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and every leading medical organization condemns conversion therapy. The APA claims it can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts among those who experience it.

In the Change.org release, Fischer frames his effort within the broader context of the state's recent moves toward equal rights for gays, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"Minnesota made history earlier this year by legalizing same-sex marriage. How can we be a state that recognizes equality for all couples, yet still sends a message that it's okay to try and cure gay children?" Fischer said. "It's time for Minnesota to make history again, and join New Jersey and California as states that will not tolerate efforts to 'cure' sexual orientation among LGBT kids."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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