The Religious Right is vowing to sue the State of California, claiming their First Amendment religious liberties are being attacked, in response to a California law Governor Jerry Brown over the weekend finally signed banning so-called “ex-gay,” “conversion,” or “reparative” therapy on LGBTQ children to try to turn them straight. The Liberty Counsel, which since 2006 has supported s program of ex-gay therapy, along with NARTH, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, and the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) are all claiming they will sue the state of California, in separate lawsuits.
“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,” Mat Staver, founder and Chair of the Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. “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.”
Nationally, the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants have all condemned the use of so-called “ex-gay,” “conversion,” or “reparative” therapy, and there is no scientific study that proves it actually is effective.
“Legislative supporters and gay-rights groups denounce SOCE [“sexual-orientation change efforts”] as ‘quackery’ that doesn’t work and is harmful to children,” the conservative Washington Times reports:
“If anyone had any doubts such practices were evil, they need only listen to accounts of victims who went through this abusive practice,” California state Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing Torrance, Calif., and lead sponsor of the bill, said Sunday after it was signed into law.
“Some victims, such as Kirk Murphy, committed suicide,” Mr. Lieu said. “This law is partly in remembrance of Kirk.”
Equality California, a gay-rights group that backed the Lieu legislation, credited the law’s passage to dozens of organizations and individuals, including Ryan Kendall and Peter Drake, who “opened their lives and sacrificed their privacy to share the damage they suffered as a result of these abusive practices.”
Many mental-health organizations, including the California Psychological Association, California Board of Behavioral Sciences, the California Latino Psychological Association and the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies, endorsed the law.
However, opponents said the law is unconstitutional because it restricts First Amendment, privacy and parental rights.
This law “binds” clergy who are also licensed professional counselors “from giving any counseling that does not affirm homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle,” said Mr. Dacus, who said a member of the clergy is among the plaintiffs in PJI’s lawsuit.
The law also “makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction,” he said.
NARTH, which represents therapists who offer SOCE, said it would “lend its full support to the legal efforts to overturn” the law.
“California citizens, and especially parents, should know the indifference that supporters of this bill have toward their freedom of choice,” said NARTH President Christopher Rosik.
But Nick Seaver at AmericaBlog reminds that the “entire notion of reparative therapy — that you can pray away the gay — has been debunked repeatedly. Perhaps most famously by the leader of the largest “ex-gay” group in the world, Alan Chambers of Exodus International.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.