Just two days after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill banning psychological therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youth straight — often referred to as reparative therapy — the anti-gay organization Liberty Counsel announced Monday it is preparing a lawsuit aimed at preventing the law from taking effect.
“In anticipation that Californ Governor Jerry Brown would sign the new law banning change therapy, Liberty Counsel has been preparing a lawsuit on behalf of counselors, parents and their minor children, and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH),” the organization said, in a statement.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2013, positions California as 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.
“This law undermines parental rights,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Mental health decisions should be left to the patient, the parents, and the counselors – not to the government to license one viewpoint.”
“The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs,” said Staver.
“A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions. This bill will harm children, stress families, and place counselors in a catch-22, because they will be forced to violate their licensing ethical codes.”
Authored by State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrence), the legislation co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.
Lieu said he proposed the measure based on concern by medical groups involving psychologists and psychiatrists that the therapy is not based on sound scientific principles.
“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” Lieu said. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”
Brown declared that he hopes the new law will relegate such therapy “to the dustbin of quackery.”
Created in 1989, Liberty Counsel is affiliated with Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg, Va., a legacy of the late conservative icon Jerry Falwell.
It was founded and is still chaired by Staver, who also serves as director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy at Liberty University; the group provides legal assistance with regard to religious liberty, abortion and the family, but is also focused heavily on anti-gay activism.