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Judge grants temporary injunction on California’s ban on reparative therapy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A federal judge in California on Monday issued a temporary injunction on the state’s ban on controverial gay-to-straight “conversion” therapy, but limited the scope of his order to just the three providers who have appealed the ban.

U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled that the ban Gov. Jerry Brown signed earlier this year could offend the ruling that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals who engage in “reparative” or “conversion” therapy.

“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 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.”

The ban, signed into law on Sept. 29 and scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, positioned 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.

Shubb signed a temporary injunction that prohibits the state from enforcing that ban against the three plaintiffs in the suit, pending trial.

The plaintiffs are represented by the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, which expressed confidence that the injunction could also apply to other therapists who choose to be added as plaintiffs.

Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism, said advocacy groups were “disappointed, but not deterred by the initial ruling by judge William Shubb.”

“This is the beginning of a process that we feel confident will end in our favor. We have a powerful and incontrovertible case that reparative therapy is a dangerous practice that brazenly stands in direct opposition to standard mental health guidelines and procedures. It erroneously portrays homosexuality as a mental illness, gay people as mentally ill, and is consumer fraud by definition because its practitioners offer false hope and empty promises to their clients for a fee,” said Besen, in a statement.

“Reparative therapy is social engineering with no medical basis and operates in an alternative reality. It is solely based on the anti-gay prejudices of primarily deeply religious therapists who cruelly project their unscientific views onto vulnerable clients at a considerable financial price, as well as a significant cost to mental health. Rather than do what is in the best interest of their clients, such unethical ‘therapists’ routinely treat their clients as guinea pigs and have them in engage in bizarre treatment regimens that would be laughable if they weren’t so psychologically harmful,” added Besen.

Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), added:

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.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Aaron Bitzer, who claims he formerly experienced same sex attractions before a successful round of “reparative therapy;” Donald Welsch, a minister and family therapist who operates a Christian counseling center in San Diego; and Dr. Anthony Duk, a psychiatrist.

Bitzer, who is studying to be an ex-gay therapist himself, claims that California’s law prevents him from sharing his experience with minors experiencing the same thoughts.

The measure — Calif. Senate Bill 1172 — was authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

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20 more reader comments:

  1. Who would “like” something “like” this?? BOOO !!! This is BAD news people.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:06pm
  2. child abuse is not “free speech.” if parents wanted to use 1700s era leeching techniques on their kids, would we say “we shouldnt interfere with their free expression?” no. it is not your right to subject children to quackery that endangers their very lives

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:08pm
  3. JMO but I do not believe in reparative therapy at all, I do not think it works and it can cause a lot of damage.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:08pm
  4. This law must stand. Let these nut cases practice on adults not on minors. This absurd, ineffective and dangerous ‘treatment’ is child abuse. Gay does not need to be ‘fixed’.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:09pm
  5. This is bad and stupid!!! FIRST AND FOREMOST LET ME MAKE A VERY STRONG DISTINCTION ABOUT THE THERAPY AND THE CLAIMS THAT SOME MAKE THAT IT HAS WORKED/OR BEEN SUCCESSFUL FOR THEM…

    This Therpay CANNOT and WILL NOT work for Homosexual/Gay personss! It is impossible to work… Anymore than a similar Therapy would work to Change Herterosexual/non-gay Persons to Gay/Homosexual.

    Changing someone’s sexual orientation that is excusively Gay or Non-gay (Homosexual or Heterosexual) is IMPOSSIBLE… HOWEVER, AND PLEASE READ CAREFULLY, It is possible to change a persons’s Sexual Practices and even Sexual Preferences, IF and ONLY if they are more of a Bi-Sexual in Orientation… Let me explain Orientation vs., Preference/Practice…

    It is one thing if misguided pastors want to use this horribly dangerous, misguided unscientific, toxice therapy–but It should not be allowed to be used by those in the “licensed Helping professions such as Psychologist, LCSWS, LMFT, or any other psychological, social work or psyhciatric therapy that is licensed by the state… The only grounds that this therapy Can Be Justifiied is by Freedom of Religious Practice… and then and only then IT must be voluntary and NO Child, Teenager or Adult should be able to be forced to participate in the Therapy… Any parent who does attempt to force a child / minor to participate should be advised that if the minor child is forced to do this therapy they will be removed and place in child protective services…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:12pm
  6. So basically it’s ok to drive someone to suicide.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:12pm
  7. When can WE start using the whole “To protect the children” phrase?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:13pm
  8. So I am allowed to sell snake oil and other quack remedies too?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:15pm
  9. I think this is sad, but we do allow other cultural and religious practices that are harmful but valued by individual families. It definitely should never be a licensed practice nor medically billable though.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:20pm
  10. If they consider that therapy, then they are going consider waterboarding as therapy.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:20pm
  11. I sincerely hope they can overturn it so therapy will be available to the minors

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:18pm
  12. add me=D

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:42pm
  13. After the age of 14, a parent shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions of a medical order for their teenager the way it is in Canada anyway. There are many things that cannot be done when it comes to speaking to a minor because they are unethical, so malpractice like conversion therapy should be barred from any kind of therapy involving them. Child abuse must stop.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:44pm
  14. vote that fecker out

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:45pm
  15. you are disgusting jeni allison ziegler if you truly believe that

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:47pm
  16. why i should go down there and block him from getting girls XD

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:00pm
  17. Apparently Jeni does not understand what this therapy does to a young person. It is not a cure nor a good thing. It teaches them to hate themselves and in many cases kill themselves.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:24pm
  18. got to be a republican judge

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:32pm
  19. A major setback in california. Impeach that idiot ignorant judge!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:41pm
  20. We wont give up, we will protect our children against false head peeping and forced identity. There are no success stories of this madness, just victims. Like the children forced into asylums for orientation in the 70′s this is a gross injustice and it will be beaten down.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:47pm