California’s Ban on Gay-to-Straight Therapy Being Challenged

The California legislature recently passed SB 1172 which bans any therapy or counseling designed to try to convert a gay minor to embracing a straight lifestyle.  This past Saturday, Governor Jerry Brown, a VERY liberal Democrat gladly signed the bill on Reparative Therapy into law, allowing it to go into effect on January 1st, 2013.

Not only does the new law forbid any gay-to-straight therapy of minors, but adults will be required to give written consent before receiving any similar gay-to-straight or any other type of sexual orientation therapy.  However, the new law only applies to licensed therapists and not lay counselors or ministers.

State Senator Ted Lieu, a former Air Force JAG officer who sponsored the bill on Reparative Therapy claims that such therapy is based on junk science.  Surprisingly, Lieu is straight, happily married and has two sons.  I would have expected this kind of legislation from a gay politician, and trust me, California has its share of them, than from a straight one.

When Gov. Brown signed the controversial bill, he said the reason he signed it was that any gay-to-straight conversion practices “have no basis in science or medicine and … will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

In an attempt to block the law and challenge its constitutionality, the Pacific Justice Institute has filed a challenge to the law on the grounds of its “unconstitutional restriction on the First Amendment, privacy, and parental rights.”  President of PJI, Brad Dacus commented on the filing saying:

“The sad truth is that many young people who are struggling with same-sex attraction do so partially because they were victimized sexually as a child.  Well, here we have these people who already have been victimized once — [and] this legislation, this new law, victimizes them twice by denying them the ability to get the counseling that they, their parents, and a licensed counselor feels is necessary.”

“We … are taking this very seriously and have filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.  And [we] are hopeful that [our action] will in fact restore these rights that have been so egregiously infringed upon by the governor signing this new bill into law.”

Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel has indicated that they will be filing a second lawsuit to challenge the new Reparative Therapy law on behalf of the licensed therapists that do work with and help children and adults with their sexual orientation.  Staver commented:

“This is an unprecedented law which literally will force minors and their parents to stop receiving counseling that is helping to resolve their internal conflicts.  It also is unprecedented because it says to counselors that they can only counsel on one viewpoint of this subject matter.”

If nothing else, I would think that such a law would be unconstitutional because it restricts licensed counselors and therapists from being able to provide the same services as unlicensed counselors and therapists.  Generally you find it the other way around.  This is why groups such as the California Psychiatric Association and a number of medical groups are against the new law.

It will be interesting to follow the lawsuits as California has some of the most liberal judges and courts in the nation, especially the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.