A bill that blocks California children and teens from seeking the kinds of same-sex-attraction therapy gay activists oppose was signed Sunday by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
More than 30 pro-gay religious organizations, including DignityUSA and New Ways Ministry, had endorsed the bill sponsored by Sen. Ted W. Lieu, Torrance Democrat, which bans therapies that attempt to change sexual behavior and/or orientation.
"No one should stand idly by while children are being psychological abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable," Mr. Lieu said on his website Sunday.
The law takes effect Jan. 1, and gay activists were quick to call on other states to follow suit.
In his signing statement, Mr. Brown said the therapies "have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery." Mr. Lieu's statement also used the word "quackery" to refer to the therapies, and pro-gay groups Sunday exulted in what they called a ratification of the scientific community's findings.
"Gov. Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors' sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians," said Clarissa Filgioun, board president of Equality California, a co-sponsor of the law.
In addition to Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Lambda Legal, Mental Health of North America, and the Courage Campaign had pushed the bill and gay-rights advocates had stepped up their calls in recent weeks for Mr. Brown to sign the bill.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said his group was "grateful" for Mr. Brown's actions.
Gay youths "will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being," he said. "We commend Gov. Brown for putting children first, and call on all states to take California's lead on this issue."
In August, gay New Jersey Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace said he would soon introduce legislation to ban "conversion therapy" for minors, according NJToday.net.
Traditional-values groups and a trade group for professionals who offer sexual orientation change efforts — which they say has been successful for countless men and women — said Mr. Lieu's views of the efforts were incorrect and government officials shouldn't be controlling what kind of mental-health services parents and children can seek.
This "is the latest and most dangerous attempt on the part of extreme activists to prohibit the clinical treatment of individuals who are seeking assistance with their unwanted homosexual attractions," wrote the board of directors of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, whose members would be affected by the Lieu bill.
The legislation is "clearly unconstitutional," and if enacted, sets a dangerous precedent for laws in other states, added Christopher Rosik, president of the association.
The Lieu bill "mandates that a licensed counselor may not assist a minor who seeks to decrease his or her same-gender attraction. Although countless individuals have successfully changed from homosexual to heterosexual lifestyles, California's legislative majority believes they know better than the client, the parents and professionally trained therapists," said Ron Prentice, chief executive of the California Family Council.
Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, a leading family values organization, decried the law, which he said even would prohibit licensed counselors from helping children recover from gender confusion.
"With the stroke of his pen, Jerry Brown is locking vulnerable, molested children into homosexuality and transsexuality," Mr. Thomasson said. "What could be more depressing than telling a molested boy he has no hope to be who God created him to be?
"And what's more angering than telling parents of a molested child they can't acquire professional counseling? This harsh law tramples parents' God-given rights to help their own children recover from sexual trauma."
Now it will be up to parents, "courageous counselors and knowledgeable pastors to defy this tyrannical edict and give hurting children the soul recovery they desperately need," Mr. Thomasson added.
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