Court Blocks Calif.'s Ban on Gay Therapy

California's ban on reparative therapy, or sexual orientation change efforts, was blocked by a federal appeals court Friday.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals placed the law, set to take effect on Jan. 1, on hold until it hears arguments on its constitutionality.

Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit to block the law. He argued in court that "without this emergency injunction, the State of California would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior."

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Liberty Counsel has sued on behalf of several parents and their children who are undergoing reparative therapy; several licensed counselors who provide such counsel; the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH); and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), an organization with about 50,000 professional counseling members.

"The minors we represent have not and do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior," Staver has argued. "They are greatly benefiting from counseling. These minors have struggled with same-sex attraction and have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflict in their lives by receiving counseling that best aligns with their religious and moral values."

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September the bill SB 1172, making California the first 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.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb granted a temporary injunction against the ban but it applied only to three plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit filed by the Pacific Justice Institute.

Staver noted to the Los Angeles Times that getting an injunction by the federal appeals court is a very difficult thing to do and was thankful for the decision.

Staver argues that the law was politically motivated.

"This law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and would have caused irreparable harm," he stated.

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