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Successful Former Patient Files Suit Against Calif.'s Ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

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By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter
October 4, 2012|2:29 pm

Another lawsuit was filed this week against California's ban on reparative therapy for minors – this time by a student who said he successfully underwent such therapy, an ordained minister and a psychiatrist.

The three plaintiffs argue that the ban violates constitutional privacy rights, free speech, and religious expression, among other things, according to the suit filed Monday.

"Of all the freedom-killing bills we have seen in our legislature the last several years, this is among the worst," said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the plaintiffs. "This outrageous bill makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction, nor does it respect the consciences of mental health professionals who work in a church."

With no exceptions for professionals or clergy who operate in a religious organization, PJI argues that the ban "directly controls the speech, counseling and therapeutic practices of religious congregations and ordained ministers."

"We are filing suit to defend families, children, and religious freedom. This unprecedented bill is outrageously unconstitutional," said Dacus.

Aaron Blitzer is a college student who is studying to become a mental health professional. He is described in the lawsuit as "a successful former patient who experienced the benefits of sexual orientation change efforts" and now seeks to share his experiences with future patients. He claims that the ban prevents him from pursuing his career.

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Joining Blitzer in the court challenge are licensed marriage and family therapist Donald Welsch and psychiatrist Anthony Duk, both of whom have worked with minors struggling with issues relating to sexual orientation. They contend that the newly signed measure interferes with their exercise of their independent professional judgment and with the private decisions agreed upon between a therapist and client.

"[W]hile the Plaintiffs generally agree that they practice reparative therapy in at least some senses of the words, they do not concede that they are 'seeking' to 'change' anyone's sexual orientation," the lawsuit states. "Rather, plaintiffs believe that change must be initiated and sought by the patient, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning, in order to be successful, and they merely assist patients who are already seeking their own change."

Liberty Counsel also filed suit this week on behalf of counselors, parents and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last weekend the bill SB 1172, becoming the first state to state to ban therapy for minors aimed at changing one's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual – "regardless of the willingness of a patient" or a "patient's parent."

The legislation was introduced earlier this year by Sen. Ted Lieu who called reparative therapy, or what opponents call "conversion therapy," bogus and harmful.

Those against the measure, such as PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays), say it usurps the rights of parents.

Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Christian Post it is "an attempt by the state of California to intrude themselves into the family unit and deny parents the right to choose what they believe is the best treatment for their child."

"As a father, I find that horrific," he commented, who also argued that the measure is "political correctness parading in science."

The measure, which is set to become effective on Jan. 1, 2013, asserts that an individual's sexual orientation "is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming" and that "sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health threats" such as depression and shame.

It also claims that "there is insufficient evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person's sexual orientation."

But to claim that change for the homosexual is not possible is to go directly against Scripture, according to Land.

"When people say people are born gay and that they can't change, they are contradicting the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Corinthians that there were people in the homosexual lifestyle in Corinth who changed through a conversion experience with Jesus Christ," he maintained. "People who deny this are putting themselves directly in contradiction to the clear teaching of Holy Scripture."

 

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