MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota House committee opened hearings Wednesday on a bill banning the controversial practice of using therapy to make gay people straight.

A number of states have already banned the practice, called “conversion therapy.”

The bill bans the use of gay conversion therapy on children under 18, or on vulnerable adults.

At the State Capitol, supporters of the measure gave valentines to lawmakers considering the ban. And child survivors told horror stories about abuse they suffered from therapists, who called them “perverted.”

(credit: CBS)

“I now live with anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal ideations, because I was told consistently that I was a threat to other people, that I was living a sin, that I could change,” said conversion therapy survivor Will Sampson-Bernstrom.

But supporters of Christian therapy lined up to oppose the bill, calling it an unconstitutional restriction on free speech and religious rights. One said the therapy helped him choose a better “lifestyle.”

“My Christian faith tells me that God intended for sex to be shared between a married husband and wife, and that other sexual actions are not holy,” said conversion therapy supporter John Rettman. “I love Jesus more than I love my own desires, so I chose to pursue a heterosexual lifestyle.”

Leading medical and psychological industry groups say conversion therapy is not an accepted practice. Fourteen states so far have restricted or banned its use.

Pat Kessler