Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Saturday a bill that would ban what is known as "reparative therapy" for minors under the age of 18.
The controversial therapy is used to help remove homosexual desires from those seeking to become straight. However, this bill prohibits parents from retaining mental health professionals to assist their own children even if the minor request the therapy.
In late August the California Assembly passed the bill spearheaded by Sen. Ted Lieu and approved by the California Senate earlier in the summer that specifically prohibits anyone under 18 from undergoing sexual orientation change efforts "regardless of the willingness of a patient" or a "patient's parent."
Approval of the bill brought praise and criticism from those lobbying on both sides.
"Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors' sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president in a written statement. "We thank Senator Ted Lieu and Governor Brown for their efforts in making California a leader in banning this deceptive and harmful practice."
However, the organization Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays opposed the bill and called it unconstitutional.
"As parents of gays and ex-gays, we are ashamed of your willingness to take action against parents, children, and the family in order to support gay activists," the group said in an open letter to Lieu in August. "California is not a socialist state and our children do not belong to the government, subject to the ideology of the state over the objections of their parents."
The law will take effect Jan. 1 and says no mental health provider will be able to provide therapy that seeks "to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex."
Mental health professionals who violate the law will be subject to discipline by whatever group regulates and licenses them.
The therapy even became an issue during the GOP presidential primary when a group secretly filmed a counselor who worked for Rep. Michele Bachmann's husband discussing the benefits of how the therapy could help reduce or eliminate homosexual desires.
Exodus International, which claims to be the largest ministry for those struggling with same-sex attraction, announced this year that it is no longer supporting reparative therapy. Rather than using therapy that promises to diminish or eliminate same-sex attraction and that uses heterosexual porn in some cases, Exodus President Alan Chambers – who believes homosexuality is a sin – said the ministry would focus more on encouraging people to pursue holiness and a relationship with Christ.
"I think counseling is a wonderful tool for anybody regardless of what struggle they bring to the table," Chambers said in an interview with CP in mid-June. "I think we can all use a little bit of counseling on planet earth today. But when it comes to reparative therapy, the reason we have distanced ourselves from it is because some of the things that they employ and some of the messages that I've heard from reparative therapists with regards to what someone can expect once they get through that type of therapy."
Chambers also says that the only true way to escape addition is through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. "It says in this world that you will have trouble in John 16:33 but take heart you have peace in Me because I've overcome the world."