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Gay Therapy Bill Blocked by Federal Judge

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:38:23 AM PST

Bill signed last year would block therapists from "converting" gay minors

by Brian Leubitz

Sen. Ted Lieu's bill barring anti-gay conversion therapy from being practiced on minors was blocked by a federal judge yesterday.

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked California from enforcing a first-of-its-kind law that bars licensed psychotherapists from working to change the sexual orientations of gay minors, but he limited the scope of his order to just the three providers who have appealed to him to overturn the measure.(AP via Fresno Bee)

Judge Shubb, a HWBush appointee who is known for his forceful presence in the courtroom, didn't really strike down the law, per se. However, with this action he both indicates that the therapists have a decent shot of winning and he can expand the scope to further therapists. However, another federal judge is also considering the case in Sacramento, so the legal wrangling on this one is just beginning.

However, it is worth pointing out a snip from Shubb's order

"Even if SB 1172 is characterized as primarily aimed at regulating conduct, it also extends to forms of (conversion therapy) that utilize speech and, at a minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech," Shubb wrote.

The judge also disputed the California Legislature's finding that trying to change young people's sexual orientation puts them at risk for suicide or depression, saying it was based on "questionable and scientifically incomplete studies."(AP via Fresno Bee)

Now, the protection of free speech, no matter how disgusting the content is and should be one of the most important duties of our government. That being said, this bill was narrowly tailored to minors only, and if anybody over 18 wants to make themselves miserable by trying to change who they are, therapists are legally allowed to oblige them. However, the state clearly has an interest in protecting LGBT minors, who are often forced into such clinics. The legal path is just beginning, but we can hope that this is just a temporary setback.

Brian Leubitz :: Gay Therapy Bill Blocked by Federal Judge
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When I was young, a good friend of mine came out to his parents during his high school years (I heard about it many years later).  The parents' first reaction was to institutionalize their son and then later tried psychotherapy.

My friend has not talked much about that experience, but I am happy to report that he is in a very happy, committed relationship.

What strikes me is the amount of courage that these young people have to come out to their parents knowing that they won't get a good response.  Everyone has had a difficult discussion with their parents at some time in their lives, but a discussion about something as fundamental and personal and consequential as sexual orientation is most courageous.

Do psychotherapists have professional designations or belong to professional organizations that could level sanctions against those who attempt to change sexual orientation?  I don't know much about the field, but I imagine they are rather progressive.  

I don't really understand conversion therapy as a free speech issue.  If someone wants to write a paper about the virtue of conversion therapy, I say knock yourself out.  But in therapy?  I don't quite understand.

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