SANTA FE – About 10 years ago, a half-dozen church members stood over Orlando-Antonio Carrillo-Jimenez and prayed for him to be delivered from a demon.
His sin – being gay.
It was an attempt to change his sexual orientation, he said, a practice known as gay conversion therapy.
Carrillo-Jimenez, who now lives with his husband in the small farming community of La Mesa near Las Cruces, visited the Roundhouse on Thursday to speak in favor of a proposal that would make it illegal to be paid for providing “conversion therapy” to someone under 18 years old. Medical professionals could also face discipline.
“The practice itself is horrific,” Carrillo-Jimenez, 45, said in an interview. “It pretty much takes who you are, and they try to change the very fabric of your being.”
Two Albuquerque Democrats – Sen. Jacob Candelaria and Rep. G. Andres Romero – are sponsoring the legislation, introduced Thursday as Senate Bill 121.
“The biggest problem I have with conversion therapy – beyond the damage it does – is that it basically tells young lesbian, gay and transgender kids that something is wrong with them, that they need to be cured,” Candelaria told the Journal. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Candelaria – who in 2012 became the first openly gay man to run for the Legislature – said about a half-dozen states have enacted similar legislation.
Romero said it’s important to accept “our children for who they are regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The American Psychological Association says that same-sex attraction is normal and that conversion therapies “are based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions.”
Carrillo-Jimenez said he went through the conversion attempt as an adult. In fact, he had hoped it would work.
But it’s another thing entirely for a child to be forced to go through it, he said.
“It really leads you to a dark place,” Carrillo-Jimenez said.