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Appeals Court Blocks Gay Therapy Ban

Panel blocks law that would've been effective Jan. 1, pending a decision on its constitutionality. UC Irvine Law School Dean Chemerinsky tells the L. A. Times he believes the law is constitutional.

A federal appeals court has now put a hold on a new state law intended to prevent therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation, dealing a setback to gay rights groups, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to block the law, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, pending a decision on its constitutionality, according to the newspaper.

The law was authored by State Sen. Ted W. Lieu (D-Redondo Beach).

"This is a very good sign for our clients," Mathew Staver told the Times. Staver is the founder of Liberty Counsel, a religious liberties group that sued to block the law, arguing that it violates free speech rights.

"To get an injunction pending appeal is a very difficult thing to do," Staver told the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said Harris would "vigorously defend" a law that banned what she termed an "unsound and harmful practice."

The law would subject psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to discipline by their licensing boards for providing minors therapy to change their sexual orientation. The state and many professional groups say the therapy is ineffective and potentially dangerous.

A District Court judge initially rejected the suit by Liberty Counsel, whose clients include a 15-year-old boy undergoing the therapy. The Christian- oriented legal group appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit.

The judges who are hearing the case are Alfred T. Goodwin, appointed by President Nixon; Edward Leavy, a Reagan appointee; and Milan D. Smith Jr., named to the court by President George W. Bush.

UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who believes that the law is constitutional, said its opponents "won this round.

"This doesn't determine the ultimate outcome by the 9th Circuit," Chemerinsky told the newspaper. "It still has to rule on the merits, and it could well go to the Supreme Court. But obviously this is a preliminary loss for supporters of the law."

California's ban on trying to change a minor's sexual orientation, the first of its kind in the nation, has divided the lower courts. The federal judge in Sacramento who refused to block the law was appointed by President Obama. She concluded that it did not violate the 1st Amendment. Her colleague on the same bench, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, concluded that it was likely that the law infringed on free speech protections.

A task force report by the American Psychological Association in 2009 said the therapy could trigger depression, suicide and substance abuse.

The new law was supported by 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.

Panglonymous December 23, 2012 at 04:24 AM
This is in court because the professionals in question are state licensed and regulated, no? I wonder if the same professionals could provide - in a private, pro bono capacity - the same counseling to their fellow parishioners.
Luis December 23, 2012 at 02:46 PM
These people who believe in reperative therapy and are pushing it are the same ones who believe that being gay is a choice. If that is the case I wonder what they would think if someone hung a shingle proclaming to make you gay in a therapeutic setting? I'm not a licensed therapist but is there one brace therapist out there willing to put that to the test? I wonder how long it would take the opposition to protest that.
Joanne Chiappinelli Hadley December 23, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Robin, Mr Lieu authored the bill to protect the gay minors. read more carefully, it is a bit confusing...
Jim December 23, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Do you think the courts would block a law stating it was illegal to do gay conversion therapy on minor straight children to make them gay? No way!!!
Tim Sole December 23, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Luis, I have no issues whatsoever with "Gay" folks. I will state that, scientifically, "Darwin's Theory" would have eliminated any so called gay genes eons ago. The simple facts of "Darwin's Theory" and biology are that two males or two females are incapable of creating offspring, thereby eliminating their genes from the gene pool. Now if you are telling me that they are sexually attracted to people of their own sex, I'll buy that 100%. Just to be clear, no one should stand in the way of any person, of any sexual persuasion and their preferred sexual attraction or partner.

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