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Federal appeals court upholds Calif. ban on gay-to-straight conversion therapy

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Updated: 3:30 p.m. PDT

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court sided with California on Thursday and upheld the first law in the nation banning a psychological treatment that seeks to turn gay youth straight.

In a resounding, unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the state law barring the so-called gay aversion therapy legal in every respect.

The judges said trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation through intense therapy appeared dangerous, and that California lawmakers properly showed that the sexual orientation change efforts were outside the scientific mainstream and have been rejected for good reason.

“One could argue that children under the age of 18 are especially vulnerable with respect to sexual identity and that their parents’ judgment may be clouded by this emotionally charged issue as well,” Judge Susan Graber wrote for the court panel.

The California Legislature cited reports, experts and anecdotes involving suicides, substance abuse and other behavior by young recipients of the therapy before members voted last year to ban it for minors.

“Efforts to change a young person’s sexual orientation pose critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide,” Lambda Legal, which defends gay rights, said in an email statement about Thursday’s ruling.

The activities of pastors and lay counselors who are unlicensed but provide such therapy through church programs are not covered by the law.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed a similar law that would also outlaw the therapy in his state.

Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal aid group that represents supporters of the practice, said it will either ask a larger panel of the court to reconsider the decision or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. Liberty Counsel is also fighting the New Jersey law.

“The minors that Liberty Counsel represents do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior,” the group said in an email statement. “They are greatly benefiting from this counseling.”

Liberty and other backers of the therapy argue that lawmakers have no conclusive, scientific proof that the therapy does harm.

When California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law, he said the therapy was “quackery,” and sessions trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation have “no basis in science or medicine.”

The court ruling on Thursday resolved two conflicting lower decisions while reinstating the ban. Those decisions came after judges wrestled with the legality of the state law that backers said punishes licensed therapists for trying to change the sexual orientation of minors.

The 9th Circuit said lawmakers relied on sufficient credible data to pass the law, including scientific reports, expert testimony and ane cdotal evidence. No mainstream psychological organization supports the treatment.

The Legislature also considered evidence that the practice is safe and effective, but the overwhelming consensus was that it was harmful and ineffective, Graber wrote for the panel.

“On this record, we have no trouble concluding that the Legislature acted rationally by relying on that consensus,” she said.

Graber said the court only had to decide whether the therapy was potentially harmful to children and didn’t need to decide if it was dangerous for adults because their emotions about their sexual identity may be vastly different.

Supporters of the therapy argued in court that the state law violated the free speech rights of counselors; the law was so poorly written that it left practitioners confused over determining the legality of their treatment; and trampled on parental rights to make mental health decisions for their children.

In short, the proponents of the therapy argued that the state law cut off a legitimate mental health treatment.

The law says therapists and counselors who practice the therapy would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards. It was supposed to take effect at the beginning of the year but was put on hold pending the 9th Circuit’s ruling. Thursday’s ruling reverses that injunction.

Graber was appointed to the appeals court from the Oregon Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1997. She was joined in the ruling by Chief Judge Alex Kozinksi, appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, and Judge Morgan Christen, appointed to the appeals court by President Obama last year.

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76 more reader comments:

  1. You should not attempt to undo what the.Creator has created!!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 5:56pm
  2. Not everyone believes in the Christian God, so please give me another argument that does not involve the bible

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 5:58pm
  3. I agree with you Donald, if I was created gay, then no one should be be messing with that. ;-)

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:02pm
  4. “Creator” doesn´t necessarily mean “God”. <3

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:05pm
  5. Now let´s get to instituting religious UN conversion therapy. Now THAT´s something that would help millions of people.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:15pm
  6. Hmmm…that means I should sue or keep spreading my message without worrying about them being able to sue me.

    What I went through is something I don´t want for anyone else.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:21pm
  7. another victory for justice!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:33pm
  8. Try beating the straight out of some one and let´s see what they say!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 7:03pm
  9. Wonderful news! This therapy has harmed far too many and am glad to see it banned. Sharing :).

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 7:24pm
  10. Thank my God. Too many of our gay youth have suffered and even died

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 7:38pm
  11. Mr. Breaux, God has created LGBT people! You do not get to decide or question what God has done he is the only creator, not you.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8:10pm
  12. This is GREAT NEWS!!! More states should follow this precedent!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8:25pm
  13. How about Homophobia Therapy???

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8:41pm
  14. Simple…If it ain´t broken, don´t try to fix it!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8:53pm
  15. What the fuck is this? *official government meeting* so we need a new way to waste money…”I know lets change kids to something that they aren´t!?”
    “fabulous idea, lets put this to action straight away”
    Fucking stupid human beings…

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:32pm
  16. Certainly is a fraud!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:33pm
  17. Well lets figure out a way to make stupid politicians smart – cant be done, just like trying to turn “gays” straight…lol.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:36pm
  18. There´s no such thing as an ex-gay.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:38pm
  19. About time!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:38pm
  20. And an oxymoron.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:39pm
  21. Unlike there ex-wives and ex-husbands we can not be ex-ed out of existence.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:40pm
  22. U mean to tell me that they actually have a cure for homosexuality? People this isn´t a choice, it´s who we are!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:40pm
  23. How can you change something that God made. We are born gay,

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:52pm
  24. Everyone is who they are. Maybe they can turn stupid people into intelligent people?!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:57pm
  25. Can´t fix stupid

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:58pm
  26. @Jason Warchol, to answer your question, NO, THEY DON´T HAVE A CURE, BUT THEY THINK THEY DO; and that´s what the legislation & court decision is all about = denying these crazy folks the right to practice their misguided claim to be able to change gays into to straight folks.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 10:59pm
  27. Amen!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:02pm
  28. Arizona is adding a program to the school curriculum to teach kids to be straight…i Hope it means this program can´t be taught in school k~12

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:02pm
  29. AMEN

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:16pm
  30. How do you teach someone to be straight? Are they confusing gender and sexuality again?

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:16pm
  31. thats fucking dumb

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:23pm
  32. good IM GLAD FUCK THAT U CANT CHANGE A PERSON TO LIKE A CERTAIN GENDER FUCKING DUMB THEY NEED HOMOPHOBIA THERPY!!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:26pm
  33. Mikael Evangale: Specifically, they confuse expression for fact and assume that not acting on sexual urges is the same as not having any, and they back this up using discredited reports about BISEXUAL people from the 1970´s which are now condemned by the APA as being without basis and smacking of severe ethical failings.

    In practice? They torture someone into pretending they´re straight. That´s all it is.

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:27pm
  34. Gay pride …

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:27pm
  35. An ex-gay is BS now I believe in Bi people. Either way we were born this way. You don´t see The Gay, Bi.s, & Lez trying to turn someone straight gay! #DamnHomophobicIgnorantCunts – Marcus

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:36pm
  36. Lookie there they got a cure for being gay but no cure for AIDS or CANCER???!!!???WTF IS WRONG WITH THE GOVERNMENT!

    Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:58pm
  37. Misty, they don´t have a cure for Aids or Cancer. Being Gay is not a disease.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:26am
  38. SO true

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:27am
  39. Actually, wouldn´t being “Ex-gay” mean you are actually bisexual?

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:31am
  40. No being ex gay isusually people who are of chris(that i´ve seen mostly) and feel they are going against God´s rules and change themselves and act straight.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:33am
  41. I cannot stand them dumbass people who say that i am sorry but if your a true gay peraon it is NOT a choice it´s who you are. It cannot be learned or taught.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:34am
  42. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1986. So it cannot be treated as a psychological illness.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:44am
  43. you either Are, or You are NOT……Or you´re Bi-sexual…you just don´t TURN “IT” Off

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:44am
  44. The story about the Arizona schools is a fraud. They are not starting a program to turn gay kids straight.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:49am
  45. This is as bad as pray away the gay. I have known that I was gay since I was 4 years old and nothing has changed. These people should be ashamed of themselves for trying to force people to live a lie.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 1:07am
  46. Virus???? it cause A.I.D.S??? what a world now…

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 1:08am
  47. I am always shocked by how many ignorant people there are out there! Gay is not a disease nor is it a choice. I no more chose to be gay than others chose to be straight ( or Bi or whatever!) wake up people! Do you read ANYTHING? Do you listen to ANYONE?

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 1:51am
  48. I´m gay and I´m proud…… my love does not need cure………

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 2:23am
  49. As someone who spent a lot of time and money trying to do this for a very long time. I totally agree that it is psychological harmful. I still feel the effects.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 2:44am
  50. U can´t pick n choose who u fall n love with if u love a girl one day n the next a man so be it its ur life no one else´s n they can not change the way u live ur life ..point blank

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 2:59am
  51. YES!

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 4:09am
  52. No such thing as ex-gay!!!

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 4:13am
  53. yeah, tat wud be ´bi´

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 4:38am
  54. long over due….!

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 5:23am
  55. Um..excuse me, honey..Bi is NOT ´Ex-Gay´. It´s bisexuality..the ability to fall in love with someone based on their spirit, not their equipment. The flag covers ALL of us, asshole.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 5:41am
  56. There is no such thing as gay illness nor is there a virus or bacteria either in case those idiots bigots homophobes try to change their strategy.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:29am
  57. Ex bi is a fraud. Ex straight is a fraud. Ex (twisted GD)pedophile is a fraud. Ex Ephebophile is a fraud. Ex Gerontophile is a fraud. Ex Allilophile is a fraud. Ex Beastiality perv is a fraud. Ex Nymphomaniac is a fraud. Ex asshole is a fraud. Ex Ex is an Ex. XEx Xe i san Exe. LOLOLOLOLOL. Ex butthurt annoying childish murderer with aids, dementia and neurosyphilis is a fraud. Ex being afraid of dieng of a disease is a fraud. Ex corporate retard influenced heavily by authority since childhood is a sexy broad with a nice ass and… lovely nipples

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:30am
  58. Agree.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:46am
  59. O

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 7:37am
  60. I´m bored that in 2013 there are still people that draw all sorts of conclusions of somebodys sexual preference.
    Being gay is nothing alse that being straight or bi or sexually confused or whatever somebody feels they are.It´s not a disease or virus and it is not responsible for all the bad things in the world.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 10:13am
  61. Lol, I am gay but ex fetus

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 10:18am
  62. more like “suppressed” gay

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 10:29am
  63. I am 100% lesbian, and for them to even concider that is fucked up, if your kid is gay so what. why is there no dis´in the straight crowd. we don´t dis you don´t dis us

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:05pm
  64. So they think youth will actually listen? Haha that´s funny! How about instead they cure something that kills people? Like oh I don´t know cancer, tumors, or even solve the stupidity of the people that think “changing us” will actually work :P

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 12:30pm
  65. There is no such thing as ex gay or changing the youth, let em be and live their life as they see fit- hell mamma help em with their makeup if you have too.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 1:47pm
  66. It condemns people to self-hatred.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 2:08pm
  67. I agree

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 3:29pm
  68. I think its up to the kid if he or she wants to be gay or not. If that young person desires to change back to hederosexuality…that´s perfectly fine, and if it requires a doctors assistance that´s fine too.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 3:29pm
  69. yea really there aint no such thing as i used to be GAY ) ….

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 4:14pm
  70. that is not true at all, I was born gay and NEVER chose because of total ignorance like the comment above from TROTZIG. That sort of ignorance leads to bullying and suicides from gay youth! STOP THEM NOW!

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 4:18pm
  71. Either you are gay or you are not. Nothing wrong with either, but it´s just that simple.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 5:31pm
  72. The other day a Jehovah´s Witness came to my door. I like this lady very much, but she told me that there have NEVER been any gay Jehovah´s Witnesses ever and they are none now, because anyone who had those inclinations would have been cured.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 5:59pm
  73. Yeah person named Trotzig above talked about someone choosing to switch with a doctors help, what do you suppose he means?

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:09pm
  74. NUFF SAID!!

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:30pm
  75. it is dangerous, can cause suicide, suicide thoughts. There should be a law against it both in the medical and religious practice.

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 7:58pm
  76. Don´t fix whats not broken!

    Posted on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 8:58pm