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Gay Conversion Therapy: Pima Co. bans controversial treatment

Posted at 11:45 AM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 20:32:01-04

An emotional issue came to a vote at Pima County Supervisors Tuesday: Should Pima County make it illegal for counselors to try to convince people they are not gay?

The law cites professional psychology groups rejecting the treatments as ineffective, harmful, and attempting to change behavior psychologists do not regard as a disorder at all.

People backing the ban say gay conversion therapy does not change sexual orientation but does do deep psychological damage.

Francesca Jarvis told Supervisors she remembers a fellow actor she found cutting his arms with a razor blade.

"I said,"My God, Joe what are you doing?! And he said, 'I'm bad.  I'm a sinner.  My parents sent me to a therapist and I told them I was fine, that I wasn't gay anymore but I can't get rid of the feelings and so I punish myself.'"

The ordinance calls for up to 25 hundred dollars in fines for anyone paid to perform treatments meant to convince someone they are not gay.

Opponents like Christopher King say the prohibition reaches too far into private family matters.

"Who do you think you are that you can tell me, as a parent, how to raise my children and grandchildren.  This is not 1984.  This is not China. This isn't Cold War Russia."

Supervisor Steve Christy says the ordinance is another case of Pima County wasting time on distractions from the business of fixing roads and providing basic services.

"Don't we have a county to run? We are not addressing any of the issues any of us were elected to, at least what I was elected to of finding ways to improve and correct our deplorable road and infrastructure situation without raising our taxes, with removing Pima County from lists we should not be on in terms of family income, of job growth, of economic development."

Supervisor Ally Miller says the ordinance intrudes on family rights and says if a child's being abused it's time to call law enforcement.

She says, "I don't have children but I wouldn't want anybody and I don't want anybody telling me how to raise my children.  Nor do I think it is the role of the Supervisors to wade into this arena."

But Supervisor Richard Elias, who proposed the ban, says it's a matter of protecting children.  

"I would think we would want to protect all our children even if it happens once it's probably something that's wrong; and if one person took their lives because of how they felt from all of this...shame on us."

Supervisors Bronson and Valadez agreed and the gay conversion ban passed three to two.  It takes effect in 30 days.

RELATED: Gay Conversion Therapy: Pima Co. considers a ban