Congressman Wants to Ban All Gay 'Conversion' Therapy, Everywhere, for Everybody

Why is this a federal matter?


"I'm from the government, and I'm here to tell you how other people should be permitted to help you."
Rep. Ted Lieu

Brand new Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) is calling for a federal ban on all therapy focused on trying to convert gay people into becoming heterosexuals. There have been some state-level bans, including the one Lieu got passed in California when he was in the state's Senate.

But those bans have only prohibited licensed therapists from using conversion therapy on minors. This new federal legislation would ban therapists from offering it to anybody, regardless of age. He wants to classify it is an "unfair or deceptive act or practice" and give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) control over punishing violators. He explained how it would work to Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed:

"The bill is … broader, obviously, because it's nationwide," he said. "But, what this bill seeks to do is to reaffirm what medical science has already stated formally: Being gay or lesbian or transgender is not a mental disease, illness, or defect that needs any sort of cure."

He aims to do so on a federal level by applying the existing laws addressing "unfair or deceptive act[s] or practice[s]" to conversion therapy. The bill would make illegal any commercial conversion therapy and any advertising for conversion therapy under certain conditions. The Federal Trade Commission would enforce the provision the same as it does other prohibited practices.

"This bill uses the FTC," he said. "There's nothing unusual about government going out and trying to protect consumers against fraud. It happens all over the place." 

But does it happen in the field of therapy? That's the big issue. Remarkably, when asked by Geidner whether the FTC had ever been used to control what mental health services were offered by professionals, Lieu didn't know. His office hadn't researched it.

I contacted the American Psychological Association to try to get some insight. Their response was to point me to a 2009 resolution discouraging efforts to treat homosexuality as a mental illness or disorder to be cured, saying there is "insufficient evidence," to support conversion therapy. Note that their tone is actually a bit milder, because it's impossible to say definitively that conversion therapy never works, just that the science doesn't show that it does. Unfortunately they didn't answer my question as to whether there are other examples of the federal government regulating particular types of treatments offered by therapists. I asked the question again and will update if I get a response. (UPDATE: A spokesperson responded via email: "To their knowledge, there are no federal regulations that ban specific treatments. Most health regulations simply limit providers to their scope of license. So that psychologists cannot provide dentistry, for example.")

Here are some things to think about Lieu's possible bill:

  • Conversion therapy is considered fraudulent because, well, it really doesn't work. Does that mean there's some sort of threshold where an entire type of therapy should be considered invalid by regulators because of the quality of the outcome? If a treatment for depression only works 50 percent of the time, is it invalid? What about 25 percent? What about 10 percent? Is Rep. Lieu comfortable with a federal agency designed to regulate trade deciding the validity of other types of therapeutic treatments or just this one? Does he really think it would stop with this one? Christopher Ferguson raised similar questions in 2012 in Time, pointing out a number of psychological treatments that have proven over time to be ineffective, but whose failures haven't necessitated government intervention.
  • By what authority does the federal government think it can intrude on the therapy choices made by adults, not just minors? At least the state's authority for banning conversion therapy of children is often predicated on protecting them from abusive treatments ordered by their own parents. Adults are more than capable from realizing if and when this therapy is not working and cease pursuit on their own.
  • What about the people who claim the treatment worked for them? I know very few people (including myself) actually believe this treatment is effective (now, anyway—let's ignore the lengthy history that actually created this form therapy). Is it the role of the federal government to intervene if people think these folks are deluding themselves? Is this really the same as shutting down some fake cancer treatment medication, for example?
  • At what point does regulating therapy become regulating speech? Lieu isn't talking about blocking therapeutic treatments that may cause perceivable physical harm or abuse, like electric shock treatment. He's talking about banning a disfavored idea—that sexual orientation can be altered. Here's how he describes his goals in a prepared statement: "I believe that a federal ban is the only way to completely protect young people from the harmful effects of conversion therapy and to ensure that they are celebrated, not shamed, for their identities. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to pass a national law that forbids this destructive and discriminatory pseudoscience once and for all.  In the meantime I will seek to block any federal funding from supporting this discredited and cruel practice." This really sounds like he is trying to regulate an argument ("celebrated, not shamed"), not a form of treatment. 


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  1. Wow – could this idea be any gayer? NTTAWWT

    1. You have to ask yourself what kind of person would want a job as a gay conversion therapist. I can think of 1.

      1. I’ve got another, if the therapist focuses on converting lesbians. And is male.

        1. All the lesbians I’ve met were better off that way. I wouldn’t touch them with Warty’s dick.

          1. I don’t think he meant lesbian-lesbians.

              1. The ‘good’ ones are a figment of your fucking imagination.

                1. I’m well aware of that.

  2. Jesus, if someone wants to go get counseling to be a heterosexual, isn’t that their business? Heck, it’s legal to go get counseling to be a Nazi.

    1. The key here, being, of course, the voluntary nature of the relationship. Compulsion changes the answer.

      1. DAMN!

        ./Skokie Nazi Party

        1. It all comes down to stopping the Illinois Nazis.

          1. We can still hate Illinois Nazis, right?

            1. Of course! That’s the last natural right.

    2. Heck, it’s legal to go get counseling to be a Nazi.

      And that’s WRONG! And we should ban it! And gay therapy is WRONG too! We should ban that!

      If we ban all the bad things, we win!

      1. Mandatory therapy to purge libertarian thinking is another issue.

        1. Nah. Too Soviet. They’ll declare climate denial to be a mental illness. That way all their political opponents will be declared to be mentally ill.

  3. Well, they turned a cure into a weapon in X-Men: The Last Stand. Maybe that’s what he’s thinking about. (Although that movie is 10 years old. What took him so long?)

  4. More Democrat Derpathy.

    1. So how come you hate medicine, anyway? Do the anti-psychotics the court made you take make you nauseated or something like that?

      1. Dr. Thomas Szasz performed anti-allopathic conversion therapy on me.

  5. Round up all the phrenologists and put them into camps!!!

    1. Isn’t that the people who study the bumps on your noggin?

      1. Nah, it’s the size of Walt’s asshole.

        /channeling Estevez y Sheen

    2. Of course you’d say that. You have the brain pan of a stage coach tilter.

  6. At what point does regulating therapy become regulating speech?

    At a point that was passed long ago, when telling your therapist certain things meant you’d get thrown in a cage for 72 hours?

  7. No more “pray the gay away” camps?

    1. I’m sure they’d have to carve out a religious exemption.

  8. I wonder if he would also support banning therapy for heterosexuals who want to overcome their aversion to sucking on the genitals of a member of the same sex?

    1. You wouldn’t happen to know any, uh, heterosexuals WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE like that, would you?

      1. Only one, and you know who you are.

    2. I had this exact same thought, regarding the Dworkin school of resisting hetero-normative patriarchy by embracing lesbianism. Would their workshops be banned?

      1. Or is it only classes on converting *to* heterosexuality that would be banned? (unclear)

        1. Of course. Converting to heterosexuality is intolerant. Converting from heterosexuality is embracing diversity.

          1. Punching up/punching down. Which is apparently analogous with fisting.

      2. Many university programs would be wiped out.

      3. Would their workshops be banned?

        You can ban freshman year in college?

        1. Only the freshman year?

          1. That’s when the fuse is lit.

  9. Lieu? Do his opponents run with the slogan, “In lieu of Lieu?”

    1. We should send them a note.

      1. You mean they don’t read the comments to this blog for cunning political plans? Fools!

      2. He’s my rep. I’ll pass it along.

    2. I feel like there’s a gay joke here somewhere with a punchline involving the phrase “in Lieu,” but i cannot for the life of me figure out what it is. A little help, Sweet’n’Low?

      1. Maybe something with Lieu. . .tenant?

        1. The Bad Lieutenant?

          Harvey Keitel’s penis turned me straight!

          1. No, that’s not it.

              1. I sort of feel like that’s racist somehow.

  10. We need to send Jesse to testify before Congress about how conversion therapy cured him of teh gay.

    1. My trip to the Love One Out conference was actually the first time I’d been around that many obviously gay people. I bet the hotels in the area would be a non-stop, shame-fueled orgy of anonymous sex.

      You’ll have to find me a really butch lesbian to marry though, and I can start writing my memoir about how I entered into a sham marriage because I thought Jesus would heal me of my homosexual urges, but I just kept staring at the asses of bellhops until one day I got caught blowing someone in the bathroom of a gay bar. Then I’ll have a big mea culpa and beg public forgiveness and apologize for propping up an industry built on lies because my own emotional immaturity and internalized homophobia turned me into a monster.

      I will be mildly famous and then a laughing stock and a few people will buy my books. SO GOOD.

      1. A Million Little Pieces…of Ass

        1. +1 Oprah Book of the Month

      2. My trip to the Love One Out conference was actually the first time I’d been around that many obviously gay people.

        Were you smart enough to get laid?

        1. Were you smart enough to get laid?

          No, I was super new to this. An overly flamboyant kid about my age did what I later recognized to be knowing eye contact, but it didn’t go anywhere. I still had my v-card for another two years after that.

          1. jesse, you’re the worst sodomite ever.

          2. What do gay teenagers consider second base?

            1. I’m not even sure what straight teenagers consider second base. I didn’t have sex until I was 20 and then didn’t get serious about it until I was maybe 26, so I didn’t really have a “gay teenager” phase.

              1. You should become a Hollywood producer, then you can have a gay teenager phase that lasts as long as you have the money to buy their silence.

                1. Somebody has been reading TMZ.

                2. But watch out for the horse heads.

              2. 1st base: Kissing
                2nd base: Boob fondling
                3rd base: Fingerbanging
                Homerun: Vaginal intercourse
                5th base: Anal intercourse

                1. Fifth base? What is this, cricket?

                  1. The butt wants what the butt wants, PL.

                    1. Clearly, the butt is not a sports fan.

      3. They’re called “bellmen” now.

        1. I don’t care what they’re called so long as they’ll play with my bell-end.

          1. *rimshot*

            Will you be here all week?

            1. There, I saw what you did.

      4. Sounds like Chuck Palahniuk’s next book.

      5. Remember that the gay bar incident must come, quite conveniently, right as you have gone as far as the ‘gay conversion therapy’ bandwagon would take you, and immediately after writing your NYT Bestseller (don’t get excited – there are so many categories that *every* book is a NYT Bestseller) you join the board of an ‘anti-conversion therapy’ group.

        1. See! Agammamon GETS it.

    2. Have you seen the Capitol bathrooms? He’d never make it to the floor.

      1. Go on…

        1. The lead-off time is at least double that of your favorite mall.

          1. *Books flight to DC*

  11. Where did Ted Lieu’s name come up recently? It sounds familiar.

  12. I can’t be arsed to look it up, but IIRC a hallmark of the mental services industry is that you can go to five different practitioners and get five different diagnoses(isisissss, whatever the plural is) and that each one will have absolute power to lock you up against your will if you don’t follow theirs.

    No one has ever adequately explained to me how that is science, let alone medicine.

    1. No one has ever adequately explained to me how that is science, let alone medicine.

      I don’t consider it to be either. It’s somewhere between religion and bullshit.

    2. Nah, they can only lock you up if they determine you are “a danger to self or others,” where they define “danger.”

    3. I swear that everyone I’ve known in psychoanalysis has entered the field to cure themselves. I know not everyone is like that and this is purely anecdotal, but there it is. Apologies to the psychologists among us.

      1. Yep. We had a parents night for the kids’ school last week. I was talking to one of the moms, and she introduced herself as doctor. I haven’t heard that much crazy shit come out of one person’s mouth in a long time.

        I looked her up when I got home. Yep, family and marriage therapist. Divorced twice.

        1. So she’s got the experience!

      2. That has been my observation as well.

      3. That’s been my experience as well. My psychologist ex even flat out admitted it to me, and she also said that in her experience everyone else going into the program with her was there for the same reason.

        1. I would stick it into any female in that program.

        2. You should’ve been a psychiatrist. With your overwhelming knowledge of psychotropic medications, you’d have made millions. With an infomercial, I think, where you urge people to buy bulk doses of your custom cocktail for a low, low extremely high price.

          Many years ago, I dated a psychology PhD, and while she was only somewhat that way, her friends in the program were so in spades. I have never been around more neuroses than I have at parties and other events with her friends.

          1. Yes, mine had a PhD (from the University of Barcelona, natch) too. And she definitely had some things she was still working through, but she wasn’t that bad, and she was a total sweetie. But man, some of her friends…damn.

      4. Psychologists and psychoanalysts are not the same thing.

        1. One of them is so much more into butt stuff.

          1. Well, which one?!? I need to know!

            1. maybe, just maybe, its the one with “anal” in the name

        2. A difference without difference is no difference. Call me when they can inject the pain away.

          1. There’s a pretty substantial difference.

            1. All fades before the superiority of the drug-slinging psychiatrist. Bow before him, Nikki.

            1. I’m going to click on that and if it isn’t the weird, Ms. Piggy version of the video, I will be upset.

              I’ve said “teaches of Peaches” three times in the last month without anyone getting the reference and it’s upsetting.

    4. I mean, some of them can be helpful to some people sometimes, especially things like behavioral therapy. But it’s far from a science. You’d be on sturdier ground calling it medicine, because that’s not science either, but I’m not convinced it’s medicine either.

      1. Do psychiatrists sit around ripping on psychologists, injecting themselves with samples from their vast pharmacopeia of psychotropic drugs?

        1. One can only hope, ProL. And one can only hope to get an invite to their house too.

          1. They have to be the coolest people on the planet.

          1. So, for psychiatry exams, do students have to inject themselves with medications to experience their effects?

            1. If not, what the hell are they wasting their time for?

              1. Yeah, you’re right, they must do that. I figure they’re completely stoned through their residencies, too, though they are required to switch drugs weekly.


  13. Isn’t Ted Lieu the same guy that just a couple of weeks ago barked “Just follow the damn Constitution?”
    What happened?

    1. It’s him doing it this time. That makes everything different.

      1. Someone should, perhaps, maybe consider possibly using the same phrase to him.

    2. His Libertarian moment, it ended so soon.

  14. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) is calling for a federal ban on all therapy focused on trying to convert gay people into becoming heterosexuals.

    “Wanna know how I know you’re gay? You drink your tea with your pinky pointing outwards!”

    “Do YOU want to know how I know you’re gay?”


    “You want to place a federal ban on all therapy focused on trying to convert gay people into becoming heterosexuals.”

    “Oh, that’s soo gay!”

    “Yeah, soo gay!”

  15. By what authority does the federal government think it can intrude on the therapy choices made by adults, not just minors?

    “By the power of the Interstellar… Interspatial… Internetal…”

    “… because of the ‘Fuck You! That’s why!’ Clause!”

  16. This whole rigamarole reminds me of the Tony Goldwyn episode of the Who Do You Think You Are? where he said how proud he was of having an ancestor that was such an early champion of women’s rights. The ancestor in question passed a law making it a crime to have sex with a woman out of wedlock, regardless of consent. Basically, even if the woman wanted to have sex, it was a crime.

    L.A. people are a crazy fucked-up lot, with crazy fucked-up ideas of what it means to be a consenting adult.

  17. If the Socons were smart, they’d challenge this law that it violates the right of privacy between a patient and their doctor as per Roe v. Wade.

    1. Or add a poison pill making it direction neutral – no gay deprogramming, but no recruitment into the homosexual agenda either.

      1. but no recruitment into the homosexual agenda either.

        Hahahahahahaha, and I thought Anita Bryant was dead. Who knew?

      2. I should’ve read your comment before writing mine below, because now I think here would be a good place to insert all sexual preference or interest, including pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, & asexuality. So services offering to improve one’s romantic life in any way would be illegal.

      3. Or a provision banning sex change therapy.

  18. A few years back I cut off my hair and started rocking this short fauxhawk. It was awesome. So easy, always looked good, the only drawback was my husband’s mourning my lost hair. Until I realized the waitresses were hitting on me in absolute seriousness.

    Now, just to be clear, everyone knew I was married. My husband and kids had been to the restaurant many times. My flabber was surely ghasted. They knew I was a straight woman who’d merely gotten a haircut… right? Right? It was just a haircut!!

    Ha. Nope. I asked and apparently it is unpossible for a woman with a type A personality AND short hair to be anything other than a dyke lesbian. The husband and kids and long hair were all a clever ruse, but eventually my inner dyke must have won out and was longing to go tear-assing through the women of the front of the house.

    No one ever speak to me of “gaydar” again.

    1. More gayhair, I suppose. Now you’re on notice.

    2. Were any of them hot?

      1. Funny, that was my husband’s reaction as well.

        1. *cough* *cough* threesome *cough* *cough*


          1. You guys are pigs.

            Honest pigs, for sure.

            1. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal!!!

  19. It made sense to ban the “therapy” for minors because, when done on a minor, it is nearly always the parent(s) trying to force the minor to change his/her sexual preference, and that is clearly both wrong and outrageous.

    But if a competent adult WANTS help from a therapist in changing his own preferences, I see no good reason for anyone to have a problem with the practice. Maybe his existing preference is causing problems in his life that he wants to fix this way. Why should anyone else care?

    1. They care because you’re saying it’s so much less desirable to be their kind that people will pay to try to change it. That’s really what the bill is about: suppressing negative publicity.

      1. Yeah, it has nothing to do with people posing as medical professionals and preying on people. It’s just about THE AGENDA.

        1. They should also ban sex change therapy and make it a capital crime.

  20. I was just thinking about how it’d be if in the bill & press release the references to homosexuality were replaced by pedophilia or bestiality.

  21. What is wrong with him?

    is he gay?

  22. Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super… I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I’ve ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h….. ??????

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