Court blocks California law banning gay therapy

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm •  Published: December 21, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday put the brakes on a first-of-its-kind California law that bans therapy aimed at turning gay minors straight.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency order putting the law on hold until the court can hear full arguments on the measure's constitutionality. The law was set to take effect Jan. 1.

Licensed counselors who practice so-called "reparative therapy" and two families who say their teenage sons have benefited from it sought the injunction after a lower court judge refused the request.

The law, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this fall, states that therapists and counselors who use "sexual orientation change efforts" on clients under 18 would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards.

The appeals court's order prevents the state from enforcing the law, SB1172, while a different three-judge panel considers if the measure violates the First Amendment rights of therapists and parents.

Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver, whose Christian legal aide group is representing reparative therapy practitioners and recipients in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law, applauded the court's decision to grant his request to delay its implementation.

"This law is politically motivated to interfere with counselors and clients. Liberty Counsel is thankful that the 9th Circuit blocked the law from going into effect," Staver said. "This law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and would have caused irreparable harm."

Backers of the ban say the state is obligated to outlaw reparative therapy because the practice puts young people at risk and has been rejected by every mainstream mental health association. After signing SB1172, the governor called the therapies it would outlaw "quackery" that "have no basis in science or medicine."