A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld California's law
banning “ex-gay” therapy to minors.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
unanimously upheld the state's right to prohibit so-called conversion
therapy that attempts to turn gay teens straight.
“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.
Christian conservative groups Liberty Counsel and the Pacific
Justice Institute had filed the lawsuit to block the law from taking
effect. Liberty Counsel said in an emailed statement that it would
appeal the decision.
“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's head Mat Staver said. “They are greatly
benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their
self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much
“Legislators and judges in the state of California have
essentially barged into the private therapy rooms of victimized young
people and told them that their confusion, caused by the likes of a
Jerry Sandusky abuser, is normal and they should pursue their
unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior,
regardless of whether those minors desire their religious beliefs to
trump their unwanted attractions.”
In addition to the therapy's supposed benefits, backers argued
that the law violated the free speech rights of counselors.
The court disagreed, saying that the law “merely prohibits
licensed mental health providers from engaging in SOCE [sexual
orientation change efforts] with minors” but does not “prevent
licensed therapists from discussing the pros and cons of SOCE with
“We further conclude that the First Amendment does not prevent a
state from regulating treatment even when that treatment is performed
through speech alone.”
Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican,
signed into law a bill modeled after California's law. Other states,
including Massachusetts and New York, are considering their own bans.
Christie endorsing adultery by signing “ex-gay” therapy ban,