SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Christian legal organization has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it reinstate an injunction against a California law that bars licensed therapists from helping homosexual youth to overcome temptation.
As previously reported, in 2012, as the ban was being contemplated in the legislature, Governor Jerry Brown remarked that he hoped reparative therapy would be forever heaved into “the dustbin of quackery.” The bill’s author, Democratic Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance, claimed that counseling and therapy aimed at helping youth turn from the homosexual lifestyle is the equivalent of “psychological child abuse.”
Therefore, the legislation, which was approved by the state Senate in May 2012 and signed into law in September, prohibited any type of “conversion therapy,” “sexual orientation therapy,” “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts.” It affects only licensed therapists and counselors, and not members of the clergy or those otherwise unlicensed to provide professional treatment.
Soon after the bill became law, the Sacrament0-based Pacific Justice Institute and the Florida-based Liberty Counsel filed suit in hopes of obtaining an injunction against its enforcement. A psychiatrist, a licensed therapist who also oversees a church counseling ministry, and a resident who struggles with same-sex attraction and has been helped by the therapy were all represented in the suit.
While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency restraining order in December 2012 just before the law’s enactment, the court reversed its course last August, upholding the imposed restrictions and tossing the injunction. It stated that California legislators had a legitimate reason to bar therapists and counselors in the state from helping youth resist romantic feelings toward those of the same sex.
“Fundamental rights of parents do not include the right to choose a specific type of provider for a specific medical or mental health treatment that the state has reasonably deemed harmful,” Judge Susan Graber wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel. “We further conclude that the First Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating treatment even when that treatment is performed through speech alone [as this law does incidentally].”
In December 2013, the court declined to consider the case further at all, with the exception of three dissenting judges who said that the matter should be heard on free speech grounds.
Therefore, PJI states that it is appealing the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may or may not decide to accept the case.
“We will continue the fight to protect the freedom of counselors and young people seeking help with their same-sex attractions,” said President Brad Dacus in an update announcing the organization’s intent to file an appeal.
“Throughout this process, we have been astounded by the lengths to which LGBT activists and the State of California have gone to distort science, free speech principles and common sense,” he stated. “The implications of this case reach far beyond this issue, and we are optimistic that the Supreme Court will rectify the Ninth Circuit’s latest attempt to defy its precedents.”
A similar law that was passed in New Jersey is likewise being challenged in the court system by those who believe it is unfair to disallow youth from obtaining help if they desire assistance in fighting their temptations.