High court won’t hear challenges to California gay therapy ban

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The Supreme Court Monday turned away two cases seeking to overturn a California law that bans “conversion” therapy for children and teens.

As it often does, the high court denied review of the cases without explanation.

Gay rights groups lauded the move, saying it shows that California lawmakers and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals were correct to lobby for and uphold such a ban. 

The California law, known as SB 1172, punishes state-licensed mental health professionals if they provide therapy to minors that would dissuade them from feeling good about their same-sex attractions.

Sponsors of the law said too many parents exposed their children to cruel and ineffective anti-gay therapies that drove the youth deeper into despair and unhappiness.

New Jersey has enacted a similar ban on sexual-orientation change efforts, which is sometimes called “conversion” therapy or “reparative” therapy. However, lawmakers in numerous states, including New York last week, declined to pass such laws this year.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) called for more states to pass this kind of “life-saving” law.

Change therapies are “discredited practices that offer no health benefits” and put lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth “at risk of severe harm, including depression and suicide,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of NCLR.

NCLR also announced a new project, #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy, which seeks to outlaw such therapies in five years.

The rejected cases, Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown, were filed by people who provide sexual-orientation change therapy, former homosexuals who benefited from the therapies, a trade group for Christian counselors, and unidentified families and teens who are upset that their therapies are disrupted or threatened by the California law.

“I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

Noting that a lawsuit over the New Jersey ban is heading for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Staver said, “I can assure you the battle over change therapy is far from over. We will be back.”

In related news, Texas Republicans added language to their party platform saying they recognize “the legitimacy and efficacy” of ex-gay therapy and will oppose bans like SB 1172.



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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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