UPDATE, December 22, 2012:s The Los Angeles Times reported today that the law banning "conversion" therapy for gay children was put on hold Friday:
...The law would subject psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to discipline by their licensing boards for providing minors therapy to change their sexual orientation. The state and many professional groups say the therapy is ineffective and potentially dangerous.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to block the law, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, pending a decision on its constitutionality.
"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."
A District Court judge initially rejected the suit by Liberty Counsel, whose clients include a 15-year-old boy undergoing the therapy. The Christian-oriented legal group appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit.
The judges who are hearing the case are Alfred T. Goodwin, appointed by President Nixon; Edward Leavy, a President Reagan appointee; and Milan D. Smith Jr., named to the court by President George W. Bush.
UPDATE, December 4, 2012: In a ruling that stunningly draws the line between the rights of children and the rights of adults, U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled yesterday that SB1172, signed into law in late September (see full story below the jump), "may inhibit the 1st Amendment rights of therapists who oppose homosexuality," thus blocking the state from enforcing the ban on therapy that "seeks to change the sexual orientatioin of minors from gay to straight," according to a story by Evan Halper in this morning's Los Angeles Times.
The plaintiffs in the case were represented by the Pacific Justice Institute; attorney Brad Dacus, above, president of PJI, was quoted in the Times as saying, "This victory sends a clear signal to all those who feel they can stifle religious freedom, free speech, and the rights of parents without being contested." On its website, PJI refers to LGBT youth as "sexually confused."
UPDATE, October 1, 2012: Governor Brown signed AB 1172 on Saturday, banning "gay conversion" that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) minors from "reparative" therapies administered by mental health professionals aimed at altering sexual orientation or gender identities and expressions, as reported by the Huffington Post this morning.
As SF Gate reported, "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...
Senate Bill 1172, which the National Center for Lesbian Rights notes was co-sponsored by the NCLR, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by many other organizations, is the first law of its kind in the U.S. and will become effective on January 1, 2013.
UPDATE, August 29, 2012: The Assembly passed 1172 yesterday; amendments added in the Assembly mean it must first return to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to the Governor's desk.
UPDATE, May 31, 2012: SB 1172 passed the California Senate yesterday and will go to the Assembly for a policy review in June.
UPDATE, May 24, 2012: Opposition from several mainstream medical organizations is slowing the passage of SB 1172, the bill that would ban "gay conversion" or reparative therapy for minors by state Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), at left.
The Sacramento Bee is reporting that the California Psychological Association, California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, California Psychiatric Association, and California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists co-authored a letter to Lieu, expressing their opposition to the language in the bill and offering "adjustments and amendments" to address their concerns.
SB 1172 allows former patients who have received the therapy to file a cause of action against a psychotherapist.
"We don't support anything that brings this wider birth of legal action against psychologists," said Jo Linder-Crow, executive director of the California Psychological Association, at left. In the letter, Lieu said that Senator Lieu is not "properly addressing" her organization's concerns.
[The letter states that] the groups don't want to ban the therapy for minors. They see the issue as a choice minors should be able to make for themselves.
They also said the bill's definition of sexual orientation change efforts is too vague. The authors argued that the language will have numerous interpretations and "may limit legitimate therapy for individuals that want to explore sexual orientation," Linder-Crow said.
Reported by the Associated Press:
The practice has garnered attention in past years as teens sent by their parents to conversion therapy programs have shared their stories online.
"This therapy can be dangerous," said Lieu...adding that the treatments can "cause extreme depression and guilt" that sometimes leads to suicide.
Conservative religious groups emphatically reject that view of sexual orientation therapy and say the ban would interfere with parents' rights to seek appropriate psychological care for their children.
Among the lawmakers who approved the bill Tuesday was Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. Leno said his parents sent him to a therapist when he first told them he might be gay, and it was only because the therapist did not pathologize his sexual orientation that he was able to come out of the closet.
"There are many that are trapped in this horror situation," he said. "And it can have extraordinarily negative impacts."
Written for California's Children by Elizabeth J Carlyle.