California’s new law banning LGBT “conversion therapy” for youth was all set to go into effect on January 1st. But, as of Friday, the law was put on hold.
SB 1172 would have barred mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy, also known as “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy, on minors. The controversial therapy, which essentially attempts to turn gay people straight, is neither safe nor effective and has been widely criticized by the American Psychological Association and other national health organizations since at least 2000.
But no matter.
On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to block SB 1172 until a decision can be made about the law’s constitutionality.
Religious groups, especially, played a significant role in blocking the law:
“This is a very good sign for our clients,” said Mathew Staver, found 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’s group was much more blunt on its own website:
Without this emergency injunction, the State of California would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.
Thank the Lord that this astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling has been blocked.
As the Los Angeles Times also noted, the law has lower courts divided in terms of its constitutionality:
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.
Perhaps most disturbing is that some advocates for reparative therapy — primarily the therapists themselves — are people who once underwent this attempted conversion, whether as youth or more recently. Notably absent are the voices of LGBT minors currently enduring reparative therapy. Perhaps we should ask them what they think about all this.