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Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy Blocked by Judges

A state law that would block therapists from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation is on hold for now.

A federal appeals court has now put a hold on a new state law intended to prevent therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation, dealing a setback to gay rights groups, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to block the law, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, pending a decision on its constitutionality, according to the newspaper.

The law was authored by State Sen. Ted W. Lieu (D-Redondo Beach).

“This is a very good sign for our clients” Mathew Staver told the Times. Staver is the founder of Liberty Counsel, a religious liberties group that sued to block the law, arguing that it violates free speech rights.

“To get an injunction pending appeal is a very difficult thing to do,” Staver told the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said Harris would “vigorously defend” a law that banned what she termed an “unsound and harmful practice.”

The law would subject psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to discipline by their licensing boards for providing minors therapy to change their sexual orientation. The state and many professional groups say the therapy is ineffective and potentially dangerous.

A District Court judge initially rejected the suit by Liberty Counsel, whose clients include a 15-year-old boy undergoing the therapy. The Christian-oriented legal group appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit.

The judges who are hearing the case are Alfred T. Goodwin, appointed by President Nixon; Edward Leavy, a Reagan appointee; and Milan D. Smith Jr., named to the court by President George W. Bush.

UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who believes that the law is constitutional, said its opponents “won this round.”

“This doesn’t determine the ultimate outcome by the 9th Circuit,” Chemerinsky told the newspaper. “It still has to rule on the merits, and it could well go to the Supreme Court. But obviously this is a preliminary loss for supporters of the law.”

California’s ban on trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation, the first of its kind in the nation, has divided the lower courts. The federal judge in Sacramento who refused to block the law was appointed by President Obama. She concluded that it did not violate the 1st Amendment. Her colleague on the same bench, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, concluded that it was likely that the law infringed on free-speech protections.

A task force report by the American Psychological Association in 2009 said the therapy could trigger depression, suicide and substance abuse.

The new law was supported by 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.

-City News Service

JustUs December 22, 2012 at 08:08 PM
This is a real controvesial one. But I think a minor should have the right to free choice. If a minor has gay tendencies and wants to become straight - I think he or she should have the right to take whatever action necessary to make that happen. Now, you can argue that it's not possible. That's fine. But you aren't the one suffering the conflict. The gay minor is the one with the problem. So stay out of his or her business. This is not a third world junta where people should be told what to think. So how dare anyone impose their beliefs on a person suffering from emotional turmoil and wanting to cognitively change his or her sexual orientation. How would you like it if I told you that you weren't allowed to switch from being a Democrat or a Republican to a 'Do Not State' or an 'Independent'? You would probably call me a Nazi. Let people make their own decisions on how to solve their life's problems. My gosh.
Elizabeth Park December 23, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I agree with JustUs. How dare anyone impose their beliefs on a person. How dare you think that you can change a persons sexual orientation. How dare you think that you can play God! How dare you tell me how to live my life. How dare you be so ignorant. You can not change sexual orientation like switching political parties. Could you change your sexual orientation?
JustUs December 23, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Elizabeth, I am not so sure we agree, dear. I think that a counselor should be able to help a young person change from being gay to straight (or straight to gay) if that is what the young person desires. It's really no one elses business if a person (whatever age) voluntarily seeks help to change from gay to straight or from straight to gay. Whether one thinks that's possible or not is irrelevant. If I was born right handed and I want someone to coach me on how to throw and write with my left hand, that should be my right as a human being. So this law makes no sense to me. It seems to be totalitarian in nature. That's my argument. I hope that we agree with one another, Elizabeth. But if we don't, so be it.
Panglonymous December 23, 2012 at 03:57 AM
This is in court because the professionals in question are state licensed and regulated, no? I wonder if the same professionals could provide - in a private, pro bono capacity - the same counseling to their fellow parishioners.
Shripathi Kamath December 23, 2012 at 06:55 AM
"I wonder if the same professionals could provide - in a private, pro bono capacity - the same counseling to their fellow parishioners." TRAP! Professionals do not have fellow parishioners. Teddy Haggard, for one, excluded, of course. Pastor Warren has not yet announced Pastor Haggard as a ex-homosexual, and "one of his best gay friends." Wonder why.
Tom Sheltraw December 23, 2012 at 07:20 AM
The only way to get to the heart of the issue is to have the ultimate truth present in the ever changing variable of the situations. Lies would become truth when that fact was made clear. Yes, we do understand that the beginning of truth would be the end of diversity; that is, diversity without constraint-diversity without consequences. Live life to the fullness of that which you were created for, and nothing less...only then would you be free.
JustUs December 23, 2012 at 08:24 AM
This is all about human rights. The right to take your life and move it in the direction of your choosing. If you are right handed and choose to instead be left handed and work to that end - God bless you. I don't care if you bat right handed, left handed or if you are a switch hitter. Makes no difference to me. Just be your own master. Don't let someone else tell you who to be. And whatever road you choose I'll be right behind you, win or lose.
Panglonymous December 23, 2012 at 01:02 PM
My comment is so sloppily written I should be forced to undergo a long course of homo->hetero therapy whether I need it or not. Preferably with ball gag in place. http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/_/viewer.aspx?path=f%2Ff3%2F&name=Ball_gag1.jpg
Frank C. December 23, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Your point might make sense if it weren't for the fact that most of these decisions will be made my parents or adult guardians. The adults will be making the decisions for these conflicted underage children, with the idea that they know what is best for them.
Frank C. December 23, 2012 at 07:18 PM
It's unfortunate that a panel of Judges have more to say than the American Psychological Association and the California Psychological Association. That's the American way, the law takes precedence over medical advice!
JustUs December 23, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Frank C. - then your conclusion might be to make it unlawful for a parent to make choices for his or her offspring, right? Is that what you want? Perhaps the law should read that the therapist cannot try to convert the minor from gay to straight (or straight to gay) if the minor has not voluntarily appeared in the therapist's office with such a goal in mind. But simply a blanket ban on therapists from practicing sexual orientation conversions is reminiscent of a totalitarian regime ordering us how to think. Why would you be in favor of such draconian hogwash, Frank C? Do you want to live under the Fouth Reich?
JustUs December 23, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Frank C - I don't want a bunch of shrinks dictating fascist policies like prohibiting a teen who feels an internal conflict and VOLUNTARILY wants to change his or her perceived sexual orientation from visiting a therapist for guidance in his or her lifestyle objective. That teen will have to live inside his or her skin for a long, long time. Why would you want to impede their desire to determine the course of their own lives? IMO that would be abuse. Now I am not talking about a parent forcing the teen to see a therapist for such guidance. I am talking about a teen WHO VOLUNTARILY SEEKS OUT THERAPY TO MAKE SUCH LIFESTYLE CHANCES BY HIS OR HER OWN FREE WILL! Let's stop trying to control the lives of others. Shall we?
Karen Rubin December 24, 2012 at 01:53 AM
JustUs- WOW, I can't believe I'm writing this but I actually agree with your views on this. Regardless if the person is under 18, if they willingly and by their own choice want guidance in changing their lives, then so be it. That issue is nobody else's business but their own.
Joker Joe December 24, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Gay is the way...that's all I got to say..... Ask the President.
Shripathi Kamath December 28, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Well, wonder if the Cowboy Church of Virginia will make an entry into this lucrative gay curing business. "The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health. But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine." http://bit.ly/UqVpEp Jesus therapy by stroking horses? Heck, why not, because religious freedom. State officials should be giving them incentives to move here. Contact: http://bit.ly/UqVUyh
Seth Eaker December 28, 2012 at 06:55 PM
As George Takei says, "Oh Myyy..." lol - that made me laugh.

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