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Gay rights groups such as Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights co-sponsored the California legislation, which forbids minors from receiving counseling that attempts to “change behaviors, or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

However, groups that provide sexual-orientation change efforts, teenage clients and people who say they have successfully changed their sexual orientations to become heterosexual are challenging the California law. Two lawsuits have been filed to block the law from taking effect Jan. 1.

“This law places the state between the client and the counselor,” said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association for Christian Counselors, as well as several parents and teens who want to continue sexual-orientation change therapy.

A second lawsuit was filed by the Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of a clergyman who also is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a psychiatrist, and a successful former patient of sexual-orientation change efforts. They say the law imposes “sweeping new restrictions on communication between mental health professionals and their patients” and “invades family privacy, freedom of religion, and speech.”