Federal Appeals Court to Hear Challenge to California Ban on ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear a challenge today to California's ban on gay conversion therapy for minors, the AP reports:

KozinskiThe cases before the appeals court — brought by professionals who practice sexual orientation change therapy, two families who say their teenage sons benefited from it and a national association of Christian mental health counselors — argue that the ban infringes on their free speech, freedom of association and religious rights, and in the case of the counselors, jeopardizes their livelihoods.

"The state has determined that the only permissible message (is that) same-sex attractions, behavior or identity are to be accepted, supported and understood, thus suppressing all other viewpoints to the detriment of licensed professionals and their vulnerable minor clients," lawyers for the families, several practitioners and the professional group said.

"The viewpoint of counselors who in their professional judgment determine that same-sex attractions conflict with the religious and moral beliefs of clients and are not desired, is silenced by SB 1172. This raises a serious constitutional question."

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (pictured), who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in
1985, Judge Susan Graber, a 1998 appointee of Bill Clinton's, and Judge
Morgan Christen, a 2012 appointee of President Barack Obama, are set to
hear the case.

U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb blocked the law banning the harmful therapy in December. It was scheduled to go into effect January 1 but was put on hold by the 9th Circuit.

MinterSaid NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter regarding 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.’”