Supreme Court Asked to Review Calif. Ban on Reparative Therapy for LGBT Youth

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  • Rainbow colored flags fly outside City Hall in San Francisco, California June 28, 2013.
    (Photo: Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
    Rainbow colored flags fly outside City Hall in San Francisco, California June 28, 2013.
By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
April 23, 2014|5:24 pm

The Supreme Court is being asked to review California's ban on sexual orientation change efforts for LGBT youth. A non-profit legal group defending religious freedom argues that it violates free speech and the rights of minors.

"Our Constitution was established to protect the people from renegade lawmakers," Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, said Wednesday. "This law is a prime example of legislators who care more about politically correct speech than free speech, and more about perks from special interest groups than the rights of children."

The law group is representing a psychiatrist, a licensed therapist who also oversees a church counseling ministry, and an individual dealing with same-sex attraction who claims to have benefited from such therapy before it was banned.

In January, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld California's Senate Bill 1172, stating that it does not violate the free speech rights of practitioners or minor patients.

"The panel held that Senate Bill 1172 regulates professional conduct, not speech, and therefore was subject only to a rational basis review," the Ninth Circuit explained.

The bill was signed into law in 2012 by Governor Jerry Brown, banning mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and others, from providing reparative therapy to LGBT youths.

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A spokesman for Sen. Ted Lieu, who introduced the bill, told The Christian Post in a previous interview that the bill is meant to protect LGBT youth from what he deemed as the harmful practice of sexual orientation change efforts.

"Many leading medical and mental health associations believe that homosexuality and homosexual desires are not a mental disorder, and therefore there is no need for a 'cure.' All medical evidence has shown that you cannot change a person's sexual orientation," Roy Sotero said.

A previous August 2013 ruling by the Night Circuit also upheld the ban.

"California has authority to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies that the legislature has deemed harmful," a three-judge panel said at the time.

"Fundamental rights of parents do not include the right to choose a specific type of provider for a specific medical or mental health treatment that the state has reasonably deemed harmful."

Gay rights groups have supported the Ninth Circuit's decision to uphold the law, calling it "life-saving."

"This decision clears the way for this life-saving law to protect California youth from cruel and damaging practices that have been rejected by all leading medical and mental health professional organizations," said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"The court of appeals ruled in very clear terms that state-licensed therapists do not have a constitutional right to engage in discredited practices that offer no health benefits and put LGBT youth at risk of severe harm, including depression and suicide."

Christian law group The Liberty Counsel, which brought a lawsuit against SB 1172 in 2013, has argued, however, that LGBT youths benefit from such therapy.

"The minors that Liberty Counsel represents do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior," the law group said.

"They are greatly benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much improved."

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