Calif. bill would ban therapy for gay teens
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP) -- Minors with unwanted same-sex attractions could be prevented from receiving therapy amid their struggles if California Gov. Jerry Brown signs a ban into law this month.
In first-of-its-kind legislation, California would prohibit even parents who want their children to receive counseling to help them combat homosexual desires.
The measure, SB 1172, passed the state Senate Aug. 30 on a party-line vote of 22-12 with support from Democrats after a similar vote in the Assembly. It was not clear whether Brown, a Democrat, would sign the legislation before a Sept. 30 deadline.
Equality California, a homosexual advocacy group, approached state Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, about introducing a bill to ban reparative therapy, and Lieu told Fox News, "I jumped at the chance."
As Equality California sees it, the legislation "would protect LGBT youth from a dangerous and scientifically discredited practice known to lead to depression and suicide."
"This abusive practice, known as 'reparative therapy' or 'conversion therapy,' is not based on science, but on homophobia and a callous disregard for the harm it causes to vulnerable youth," Clarissa Filgioun, president of the Equality California board, said in a letter appealing for support.
"Therapists are hurting young people by shaming them and telling them that who they are is wrong, resulting in depression, loss of self-esteem, social withdrawals, substance abuse, and even suicide," Filgioun wrote.
Pacific Justice Institute, a pro-family organization, has led the fight against the legislation and vowed to file suit if the bill is signed into law.
"We have never seen this level of restriction, prohibition and intrusion in the name of LGBT rights," Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, said in a statement. "We intend to vigorously pursue legal action if this unprecedented attack on family decision-making is signed into law."
Matthew McReynolds, a Pacific Justice Institute staff attorney who spoke against the measure at three committee hearings, said SB 1172 "makes it crystal clear that the new focus of LGBT advocacy groups is not equality or civil rights, but shutting down and silencing their opponents."
"Californians are among the most tolerant people in the world, and they do not support this approach of outlawing speech just because LGBT groups disagree with it," McReynolds said.
As characterized by the California Family Council, SB 1172 "mandates that a licensed counselor may not assist a minor who seeks to decrease his or her same-gender attraction."
"Although countless individuals have successfully changed from homosexual to heterosexual lifestyles, California's legislative majority believes they know better than the client, the parents, and professionally-trained therapists," the California Family Council said.
McReynolds, of Pacific Justice Institute, told Fox News SB 1172 "unconstitutionally prohibits speech ..., violates privacy and personal autonomy rights, intermeddles in theological disputes, clashes with other laws and creates significant unintended consequences."
"As long as this bill threatens to shame patients and silence counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, we will vigorously oppose it," McReynolds said. "We cannot afford to let the state invade the counseling room or doctor's office to dictate what views on sexuality are acceptable and unacceptable."
Lieu, the state lawmaker who introduced the legislation, told Fox News the matter is a health issue and the government intervenes all the time to restrict the rights of parents regarding health issues.
"We pass laws saying minors can't buy tobacco products, anyone under 21 can't legally drink alcohol, and we force parents to put their very young children into car seats while they're driving," Lieu said.
The list of troubling legislation awaiting the governor's signature or veto this month is long, according to the California Family Council:
-- SB 623 would extend a pilot program allowing nurse midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform surgical abortions. "We oppose this program due to the increased health risks to women and the attempt to expand the practice of abortion," the council said Sept. 12.
-- SB 1140 redefines marriage as a personal relation without reference to "between a man and a woman."
-- AB 1657 would add a $1 fee to traffic fines except parking violations, and the money from the fees may be used for research that includes human embryos. "We oppose mandatory fees whose use conflicts with our religious beliefs and conscience, such as the destruction of early human life for research purposes," the council said.
-- AB 1960 would require a government database that currently tracks state contracts with businesses by race, ethnicity and gender of owner. The bill would require the collection of data for state contracts with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-owned businesses. "Undoubtedly, this bill is leading to mandatory contracted services with LGBT-owned businesses as a government statement of 'anti-discrimination,'" the council said.
Pacific Justice Institute urged California residents to call Brown's office to voice concern. The toll-free number is 855-468-2796.
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).