A bill which would ban therapies that attempt to alter a young person's sexual orientation from gay to straight was approved on a party line vote in the California Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

The proposal (SB 1172), sponsored by Senator Ted W. Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, cleared the Senate in May.

“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” Lieu said after his bill cleared the Senate. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”

ThinkProgress.org reported that witnesses supporting the legislation told committee members that the bill “will literally save lives.”

The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group which promotes the therapy, called the measure “another triumph of political activism over objective science.”

On its website, the group claims that passage of the bill would “likely increase harms to minors through its unintended consequences.” Parents, the group explained, would be forced to seek out therapy for their children from “unlicensed, unregulated and unaccountable religious counselors.”

“The vast majority of anecdotal accounts of harm to children from SOCE [Sexual Orientation Change Efforts] seem attributable to these types of counselors and to religiously oriented programs.”

The bill must first be reconciled in the Senate before returning to the Assembly for a final vote.

Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed an ethics complaint against a licensed Oregon therapist claiming he attempted to turn a 22-year-old gay student straight without his consent.

(Related: Dr. Robert Spitzer regrets 2001 study supporting “ex-gay” therapy.)