A bill that would ban Iowa mental health professionals from trying to change the sexual orientation of gay patients under age 18 was approved by the Iowa Senate Human Resources Committee Wednesday on a straight party line vote.
Senate File 31 was sent to the Iowa Senate floor with the committee's eight Democrats in favor and four Republicans against. While the measure could be approved this session by the Democrat-led Senate, it appears unlikely the GOP-controlled House will consider the bill.
So-called conversion therapy attempts to convert gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals from homosexuality to heterosexuality through prayer and other efforts. It's based on the idea that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice.The full text of the bill is available here.
I have blogged at length about a similar ban in California, the First Amendment challenge to the ban, and the Ninth Circuit's ultimate decision that prohibiting sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors is constitutional.
If the Iowa bill were to pass, I would not be surprised if it ended up facing similar constitutional challenges. California and New Jersey laws prohibiting sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors have survived constitutional attacks so far. But if more states continue to pass these laws, some of the First Amendment challenges may end up succeeding. And if that happens, it could set the stage for a pretty fascinating Supreme Court case.