Two LGBT advocacy groups, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equality California, filed court papers late Friday seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the new California law protecting LGBT youth from “gay-to-straight” reparative therapy.
The NCLR and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson filed the motion on behalf of Equality California, asking the federal district court in Sacramento to permit them to join California Attorney General Kamala Harris in defending Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits state-licensed therapists who claim to be able to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices that can lead to extreme depression and suicide.
The bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2013, was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by NCLR, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the law on September 29, making California the first state in the nation to prohibit licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts of any kind for a minor patient, regardless of a parent’s willingness or desire to authorize participation in such programs.
On October 4, two anti-LGBT groups, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Liberty Counsel, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law and asking the court to prevent the law from going into effect.
“This lawsuit is a desperate attempt by extreme anti-LGBT groups to defend the indefensible—mental health professionals who subject young people to dangerous practices,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell.
“The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and deadly. The state has the right and obligation to protect young people from this psychological abuse, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide.
“We know this law will save lives, but our opponents know that if the law stands it will hurt their livelihood. They have made careers out of making young LGBT people feel ashamed, wrong, sick, and bad. They want to keep engaging in an array of deplorable practices to attempt to change the essence of who these kids are, and we won’t back down until they are stopped.”
Equality California Board President Clarissa Filgioun said her group is “committed to defending this law on behalf of our members and the entire LGBT community.”
“Our members have a stake in this law, and we are committed to ensuring that the protections set in place by the legislature and the governor are enacted, and given full force and effect. Our state lawmakers recognize that this law is necessary to protect young people from serious harm, and we are confident the law will be easily upheld,” said Filgioun.
Plantiffis in the lawsuit say the ban prevents them from treating minor patients with either counseling or prescription medications to help them control their “unwanted same-sex behaviors or attractions,” and as a result, forces them to discriminate against such patients based on their sexual orientation.