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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 5, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 40
California bans 'ex-Gay' therapy
Section One
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California bans 'ex-Gay' therapy

Religious groups sue after Gov. Brown signs historic bill

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

California has become the first state to ban so-called reparative or 'ex-Gay' therapy. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure September 29, a month after it passed the Legislature and less than 24 hours before his deadline to either sign or veto it.

By October 2, two anti-Gay groups had filed suit to overturn the new law.

The bill, introduced by Democratic State Sen. Ted Lieu, bars mental health practitioners from performing anti-Gay therapies, which professional psychological organizations consider dangerous and abusive.

Effective January 1, no mental health professional will be allowed to provide therapy that seeks 'to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.'

The law applies to patients under 18 years of age who lack the legal capacity to make judgments about their own care. Mental health providers who violate the law will be subject to discipline by whatever group licenses them.

'PRAY AWAY THE GAY'
'Reparative therapy' practitioners are typically affiliated with fundamentalist religious institutions, and LGBT rights groups have derisively characterized the therapy as an attempt to 'pray away the Gay.'

'This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery,' Brown said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

As the deadline for signing or vetoing the bill approached, Brown became the target of intense lobbying by national LGBT organizations. HRC sent him a petition with some 50,000 signatures urging him to approve the measure.

Once Brown signed, HRC released a statement congratulating him.

'LGBT youth will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being. We commend Gov. Brown for putting children first, and call on all states to take California's lead on this issue,' HRC president Chad Griffin said.

Other LGBT groups also praised Brown for signing the measure.

'Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families,' the National Center for Lesbian Rights said.

'This law will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the dangerous and deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be 'cured.'

'Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear,' Equality California said in a statement.

'Efforts to change minors' sexual orientation are not therapy - they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Californians. We thank Senator Ted Lieu and Governor Brown for their efforts in making California a leader in banning this deceptive and harmful practice.'

LEGAL CHALLENGES
The measure did not meet with the same approval from anti-Gay groups, however. On October 1, Liberty Counsel announced it was filing suit to block the new law on behalf of NARTH (National Ass

ociation for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), perhaps the most infamous 'ex-Gay' group in the country. The next day, the Pacific Justice Institute also filed suit, charging that the law infringed religious freedom.

'Of all the freedom-killing bills we have seen in our legislature the last several years, this is among the worst,' the group's president, Brad Dacus, said in a statement.

'This outrageous bill makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction, nor does it respect the consciences of mental health professionals who work in a church,' continued Dacus. 'We are filing suit to defend families, children, and religious freedom. This unprecedented bill is outrageously unconstitutional.'

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