Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Initial Attempts to BlockCalifornia Ban On Reparative Therapy Fail

Two rulings were handed down by federal judges in California in response to separate law suits filed by anti-gay "Christian" organizations and "ex-gay" therapy quacks.  The anti-gay forces are desperate to stop this law which bars therapists from inflicting fraudulent reparative therapy on individuals under the age of 18 and, to my view is necessary to prevent nothing less than a form of child abuse.  Just as legislation and courts have intervened to require needed medical treatment of minors over the often bizarre religious based objections of parents, so too, the courts and legislation should prevent harmful treatment that claims religious belief as its only real justification.  The National Center for Lesbian Rights has a summary of yesterday's rulings.  Here are highlights:

(San Francisco, CA, December 4, 2012)—Today, Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a request by an anti-LGBT group to postpone the January 1, 2013 start of the state’s new law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from psychological abuse at the hands of state-licensed therapists who use dangerous practices to try to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression. The ruling means that the law will go into effect as scheduled.

The court also granted a motion by Equality California to intervene in the lawsuit in order to defend the law alongside California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who represents the State of California defendants. Equality California was the lead sponsor of the law and is the state’s leading political advocacy group representing LGBT people and their families.

The Court’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality that challenges the new law protecting LGBT youth from practices—including the use of shame and aversion therapy—that are known to lead to depression and suicide attempts. The group is represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT legal group. In rejecting the groups’ request to temporarily prevent the statute from going into effect on January 1, Judge Mueller concluded that the California law “prohibits a therapeutic practice deemed unproven and potentially harmful to minors by ten professional associations of mental health experts.”

Judge Mueller’s decision follows another decision yesterday by Judge William B. Shubb, also of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, in another case brought by a different set of plaintiffs who are also challenging the California law. Judge Shubb issued an order temporarily exempting three plaintiffs in that case from being subjected to enforcement of the law while the case proceeds in his court. Judge Shubb’s order applies only to the three plaintiffs in the case before him and does not prevent the state from enforcing the law against other licensed mental health professionals. Judge Mueller’s decision today clears the way for the law to go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator 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. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 29, 2012.

The reparative therapy myth has long been a tool used by the anti-gay far right to dupe some in the larger public into believing that sexual orientation is a choice and something that can be change because they realize that if sexual orientation is immutable and not something that can be changed, then courts and legislatures will be more inclined to grant LGBT protections.  The basis for reparative boils down to anti-gay animus and psychotic religious extremist who are threatened by the reality that God, nature, etc. makes some us gay.   Then of course, there is lots of money to be made preying on tormented gays who have been religiously brainwashed and their parents. 

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