SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois lawmakers voted down a bill banning so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of gay youth.
The measure sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy was defeated Thursday in the Illinois House on a 44-51 vote, although 22 members did not vote.
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The legislation, which would have prohibited mental health providers from providing the therapy to anyone under age 18, was backed by gay and lesbian advocates, who argued the bill could have made Illinois a leader in protecting youths from what they call a "false and potentially dangerous treatment."
"We need to protect our children," said Cassidy, who was also one of the architects of Illinois' same-sex marriage law.
But the some Republicans, along with the conservative Illinois Family Institute, opposed the bill, arguing it would prevent youths from getting counseling for "unwanted feelings."
"This is not stuff we should be legislating on at all," said Wheaton Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Let people decide for themselves what they need to have for themselves."
California and New Jersey have such bans.