A bill which seeks to ban therapies which attempt to alter a minor's sexual orientation from gay to straight advanced Monday in the New Jersey Senate.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved the bill with a 7-1 vote (2 abstentions) after a tense 3-hour hearing.

Supporters of the therapy argued against passage of the measure, arguing that it has helped thousands of people alter their sexuality.

The measure is sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who is openly gay and has raised two children with his partner of 31 years.

“I see it as a form of child abuse,” Eustace told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Being gay “is not an illness, so what are they fixing?”

The proposed legislation, which is modeled after California's law, would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with a minor.

“Studies and personal testimony have shown this practice creates irreparable harm on young people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality,” said Eustace. “Forcing someone to deny their innate feelings and their very existence has led to depression, suicidal tendencies and other untold harm. Leading psychological professionals agree that this practice has no place in legitimate mental health therapies. I hope New Jersey will join California in leading the way on standing up to this harmful practice.”

The bill is being championed in the Senate by Senators Raymond Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Stephen Sweeney.