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.’”


  1. disgusted american says

    what should be brought up is – the opposite – tellm that IF they think this works – then COULD it be said that there SI a Therapy to turn straight people gay…? seriously – this couldnt be any more crystal clear!!

  2. David Hearne says

    First off : ” Christian mental health counselors ” is a contradiction in terms.

    Secondly, no one that I am aware of is saying that Christian counselors, ie priests or laity cannot practice all the voodoo they wish under the banner of religion.

    What they can’t do is practice voodoo and call it medicine, or be paid for it my medical insurance.

    This is about money. Everything is about money.

  3. Francis #1 says

    It’s a pretty major reflection of where the USA is on this issue that we’re talking about ex-gay therapy and whether or not states can ban it, and how ex-gay therapy continues to destroy the lives of thousands of LGBT youth. Yet in three countries this month alone have passed marriage equality with more on the way. But knowing the quackery has been banned in California for all but three individuals since Jan. 1st is comforting (although churches are now more or less running de-facto ex-gay organizations themselves, the practice itself isn’t going away, it’s just changing it’s philosophy and tactics).

    Hopefully the correct decision is made here.

  4. Jay says

    Not only that, the damage done to developing individuals in those early years is irreparable.

  5. Jay says

    Not only that, the damage done to developing individuals in those early years is irreparable.

  6. says

    i don’t know how it can even be accomplished but at this point in our species’ history it’s just embarrassing and shameful that we’re still having to accept a “differing opinion” that is not merely a disagreement, but an empirically-false and bigoted stance.

    three countries pass marriage equality and 34 republicans voted to keep sexual activity between consenting adults of the same sex a FELONY. punishable with a jail sentence.

    and now we’re being told it’s infringing on “freedom of speech” to prevent bigoted parents from sending their children to “therapies” that have not only blisteringly low success rates, duh, but also high suicide rates. and contribute to a massive blow to a person’s sense of self worth.

    this is just galling.

  7. Hey Darlin' says

    These quacks are trying for one thing only, to attempt to prove through “conversion therapy” that being gay is some sort of choice. If you enroll your children in this type of soul stripping exercise the outcome will be on you for attempting to help prove something that has already been disproven. I look for the state to uphold the truth that these exercises have no medical or theapeutic value, regardless of what their victims have been programmed to say.

  8. StevyD says

    I’m sure Dr. Josef Mengele (infamous for performing human experiments on concentration camp inmates, including children) would have feared for his future earning potential once his form of live experimentation became illegal.

  9. JONES says

    “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.”

    But let’s not let this stand in the way of religious objections to a minority group. As ‘Christian’ mental health professionals we know better … our religion makes it so.

  10. says

    after all, these are (likely) the same people who don’t want safer-sex education, and prefer “abstinence only” (mis)education. despite the empirical evidence that their preferred brand of “education” results in higher STD rates, teen pregnancies and pretty much all the things they want to prevent.

    but don’t let facts get in the way of your chosen opinions, eh? 😉

  11. Ninong says

    If these professional quackpots are practicing their voodoo on a minor, they should be charged with child abuse!

    It’s absurd that child abuse is tolerated as long as it’s cloaked in some deeply-held religious conviction/superstition. It’s still child abuse, plain and simple.

  12. says

    Unless EVERY individual they treat is there under their own free will and volition, there is no free speech protection. This treatment is no different than the lobotomies preformed during the early to mid 20th century. It’s being given to people who are not in control of their own well being!

  13. Kyle says

    The ban protects gay adolescents from being coerced into ex-gay therapy because of the accident that they were born into homophobic households. Adolescents’ livelihoods depend on their parents, so it would be impossible to distinguish truly consenting minors from passively coerced minors reverent or fearful of their parents’ retaliation.

  14. Matt says

    It isn’t that people aren’t capable of stopping themselves from having gay relationships. It’s that there’s no reason–none–they should have to.