DENVER (AP) — Colorado Republicans in the Senate rejected a bill Wednesday to ban gay-conversion therapy for kids.
The bill, sponsored by Democrats, would have banned therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of children. It failed 3-2 on a party-line vote in a Senate committee.
Gay-conversion therapy has been rejected by mainstream psychological associations. But some fear that making such therapy illegal treads on religious freedom.
"I am hesitant to use the heavy hand of government to take away the dignity of choice in cases where individuals want this therapy," Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, said in a statement after the vote.
The vote came after impassioned testimony on both sides. Therapists who both supported and opposed the ban told of painful experiences by young people grappling with being gay.
"It is not a disorder and should not be treated as one," therapist Angela Sasseville said.
Other therapists and a pastor then testified that conversion therapy can be supportive and successful.
"If someone decides they do not want to identify as gay, they should not be denied help," said Jayson Graves, a therapist who said he was attracted to males as a youth but successfully changed his orientation through therapy.
The bill earlier passed in the House, which is controlled by Democrats.