A first-of-its-kind ban on a form of “therapy” aimed at making gay people straight is speeding through the California statehouse. Supporters say the legislation is necessary because such treatments are ineffective and harmful. “This therapy can be dangerous,” said the bill’s author Sen. Ted Lieu. The Torrance Democrat added the treatments can “cause extreme depression and guilt” that sometimes leads to suicide. Interest in the religion-based therapy appears to have surged in recent years, sparking debates about whether sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic. Exodus International, the world’s largest Christian referral network dealing with homosexuality, now steers people to 260 groups across the country, up from about 100 a decade ago. The organization has 35 ministries and churches scattered around California, from the Central Valley to the U.S.-Mexico border.
GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann defended the two clinics she runs with her husband on a recent episode of Leno. Asking Bachmann why gay people shouldn’t have the right to be happily married, Leno said: “That whole ‘pray the gay away’ thing, What? I don’t get that.” She’s offering what she calls a Christian counseling service. The clinics have come under fire because they use a controversial therapy that encourages gay and lesbian patients to change their sexual orientation. Bachmann said the clinics did not discriminate, but repeated her position that marriage should be between a man and a woman.