"Ex-Gays" | California | News | Shannon Minter

Federal Judge Blocks California Ban on 'Ex-Gay' Therapy for Minors

A federal judge has placed a block on California's recently passed SB 1172, which bans harmful "ex-gay" therapy for minors but has limited his order to three people — "psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch, and Aaron Bitzer, a former patient who is studying to become a counselor who specializes in clients who are unhappy being gay" — until a trial can be held on the merits of their challenge.

ShubbThe AP reports:

U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb (right) made a decision just hours after a hearing on the issue, ruling that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals who engage in "reparative" or "conversion" therapy outweigh concern that the practice poses a danger to young people.

"Even if SB 1172 is characterized as primarily aimed at regulating conduct, it also extends to forms of (conversion therapy) that utilize speech and, at a minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech," Shubb wrote.

The judge also disputed the California Legislature's finding that trying to change young people's sexual orientation puts them at risk for suicide or depression, saying it was based on "questionable and scientifically incomplete studies."

MinterNCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq. released a statement in response to Shubb's ruling:

“We are disappointed by the ruling but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit. The judge stressed that he was willing to issue the ruling in part because it is temporary and applies only to three individuals. We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients. That is especially important in this case because the harms to minors are so serious, including suicide and severe depression. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has rejected these practices and warned that they are not only completely ineffective, but dangerous. California did the right thing by enacting this law, and we are confident the courts will find that it is not only constitutional, but vitally necessary. It is heartbreaking to think of the terrible damage that has been done to so many LGBT youth and their families, and of the lives that have been lost or destroyed because of these discredited practices.

We applaud Senator Ted Liu, the bill’s author, lead sponsor Equality California, the California Legislature, and Governor Brown for protecting these young people and their families. Governor Brown’s statement when he signed this bill is right on target: ‘This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.’”

The law, which was passed on September 29, goes into effect on January 1, 2013.

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  1. *leeches. Oops.

    Posted by: BETTY | Dec 4, 2012 6:23:59 PM

  2. Javier..typical catholic anti gay bigot.

    Hope you get cancer.

    Posted by: Steve-ATL | Dec 4, 2012 8:06:28 PM

  3. Having had gay friends commit suicide over this conversion therapy programs..it IS and ALWAYS HAS BEEN child abuse.

    Gay rights organizations need to make sure it's outlawed for minors in EVERY state!

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Dec 4, 2012 8:07:40 PM

  4. This is not a major defeat for ending the horrible practice of using "ex-gay' therapy on minors. It is just a bump in the road.

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 4, 2012 8:08:36 PM

  5. I went through this reperative therapy process. Forced out of my will by my parents, like most kids our. It is mental and brutal torture. I still deal with the side effects today. Most children become damaged and don't have any say in doing it or not. All gay rights groups need to join forces in combating these programs. They are hurting our gay youth.

    Posted by: Kyle | Dec 4, 2012 8:09:00 PM

  6. Well said Andrew.

    It's not a defeat and we need to keep fighting this....for those gay children who are crying right now because they don't have a voice. We as adult LGBT need to fight this battle (in courts and in public) for them, because they are being abused emotionally.

    Posted by: Art Smith | Dec 4, 2012 8:12:35 PM

  7. @Francis: be careful of your absolutes - homosexuality was delisted as a mental illness only in 1973. while there was enough gay-friendly research from at least the 1960s to justify that change, there had been plenty of anti-gay research too. For example, use of electro-shock therapy to cure homosexuals.

    @Jere - it's precisely because parents want to force their minor children into abuse that we have an issue with homophobes. They commonly operate from a principle that gays recruit or molest children to make them gay. They want to deal with the red herring of a child being gay rather than deal with the issue of molestation, which could be very embarrassing given that most molestees know their molestor(s).

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 4, 2012 9:46:33 PM

  8. @Javier: Once upon a time - but not in a land of make-believe - battering and raping children was acceptable practice, sanctioned by the Christian church. It's time that ex-gay therapy be recognized for what it is.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 4, 2012 10:51:29 PM

  9. Javier,
    While parents have a right to their religious beliefs, all of our constitutional rights rest on our rights to our own thoughts and feelings. Whether you are 2 years old, 20 or 200, you have a right to your own beliefs, thoughts and emotions. If a mind-control machine were possible, would it be ok for parents to use it to force their children to accept their religious beliefs or political beliefs? I believe absolutely not, and I think the constitution backs that up (doesn't matter if it doesn't, the constitution is very incomplete in protecting rights).
    Protecting children from dangerous behavior (such as unsafe sex, drug use, etc.) is different from trying to take away their right to their thoughts and feelings and turn them into a robot or doll. Even with legitimate illnesses such as depression, the parents right to force treatment should be limited to helping the child function at age appropriate levels-safely moving towards independence, not forcing them to think like they do. So it may be ok to force a child not to use drugs, but not to coerce them into believing drugs are bad or demanding that they believe in prohibition.

    That said, I do believe that consenting minors should be able to have access to the "therapy," as ridiculous as it is, provided there are safety checks in place. Minors also have a right to their religious beliefs and to attempt to change their own thoughts and feelings if they choose to. Coercion in this matter, however, would be a clear violation of a child's rights at any age.


    Posted by: Matt | Sep 25, 2013 11:25:03 PM

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