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Federal Court Blocks California Law Prohibiting ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy For Children

by David Badash on December 22, 2012

in Education,News,Politics,Religion

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Friday temporarily blocked the implementation date of a California state law that prohibits so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy for children. Practically every major medical organization has stated therapy to change a person’s orientation is harmful and possibly dangerous.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality California issued a joint statement yesterday in response:

Today, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily delayed the start date of a new California law that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from therapists who try to change their sexual orientation despite warnings by medical experts that these discredited practices put youth at risk of serious harm.

The new law was set to take effect on January 1, 2013. Today’s decision temporarily postpones that date until the court rules on the underlying appeal of a decision earlier this month by Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Judge Mueller denied a request by an anti-LGBT organization to stop the law from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit has put the case on a fast track and will rule on that appeal early next year.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 29, 2012.

Judge Mueller earlier this month also granted a motion by EQCA to intervene in the lawsuit in order to defend the law alongside California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who represents the State of California defendants. Equality California is represented in the case by NCLR and the law firm of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.

“Every leading medical and mental health organization has warned therapists and parents that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression and suicide,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “No young person should be subjected to these dangerous practices, and no licensed therapist should be permitted to engage in practices that cause such serious harm. We are pleased that this case is on a fast track so that this lifesaving law can take effect as soon as possible.”

Added Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor: “Equality California is proud to have sponsored this important law, which will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer engage in these dangerous and unethical practices. California regulates medical providers to protect consumers from all kinds of harmful and fraudulent practices. The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1172 based on the warnings of the country’s leading medical organizations that these archaic practices have no medical or scientific basis and put youth at risk of serious harms. We want every LGBT youth in this state to know that the law values their lives and protects them from this dangerous abuse.”

Liberty Counsel, the anti-gay law firm and ministry that has a strong relationship to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, is challenging the law, which it calls “politically motivated.”

In a heinous statement exhibiting the very reason this law is so necessary, Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, stated:

“Without this emergency injunction, the State of California would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.”

Of course, being LGBT has nothing to do with child sexual abuse, and those who claim so have no business treating or managing the treatment of children — or adults.


Liberty Counsel and Liberty University, as regular readers know, are home to the infamous Matt Barber.



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BJLincoln December 22, 2012 at 9:12 am

While this is a good law, it only applies to licensed therapists and not the religious quacks or "camps" that people send their kids to.

Brian Stroup December 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I fail to understand why the courts are too happy to block a law that right-wing christianist lunatics don't like, but they won't block a law that adversely affects LGBT people. Maybe we should start treating these "therapists" the way they treat abortion doctors?

whatsmyparty December 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Because a panel of three right-wing christianist/mormon lunatics issued the injunction. Unfortunately, despite it being the left-leaning 9th Circuit, a Nixon appointee, a Reagan appointee, and a GW Bush appointee allowed the child abuse to continue.

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