California’s ban on ex-gay therapy is facing its first legal challenge. The law prevents mental health providers from counseling gay minors on how to become straight. Also known as “reparative therapy”, the practice has never been shown to actually cure anyone of being gay and when children are forced into it, often times they have reported a marked increase in suicidal thoughts and actions.
Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay religious group of lawyers, are trying to get US District Judge Kimberly Mueller to block the law from going into effect. They represent some counselors and parents who have claimed that their sons have benefitted from the therapy. Liberty Counsel claims that the law violates the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion of these individuals.
Liberty Counsel lawyers claimed that, if the law is not blocked, the therapists and families “will be immediately and irreparably harmed by being forced to discontinue ongoing therapy in violation of their constitutional rights, by being denied the ability to direct the upbringing of their children, and by being compelled to violate their ethical obligations in order to obey the law.”
Lawyers for California have argued that the ban is necessary because it protects children and young adults from a form of therapy that has been resoundly rejected by the mental health associations. Attorney General Kamala Harris wrote to Mueller saying that the therapy “can and has caused great psychological pain in young people who are already struggling with their sexuality and the stigma of being gay. An injunction would expose some of society’s most vulnerable members to treatment that the state and every major mental health organization in the country have condemned as an outmoded, ineffective, and potentially dangerous relic from an era when homosexuality was pathologized and criminalized.”
Growing numbers of those who have claimed to have been ‘cured’ by this kind of therapy have come forward to admit that, while they are not acting on their homosexual nature, they are still strongly attracted to members of the same sex.