A legal group is seeking a federal injunction against a California ban on “reparative therapy” for minors with homosexual attractions or behaviors, saying the law restricts the rights of families to find treatment for their children and threatens religious freedom.
Brad Dacus, president of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, said that the advocacy for the bill “relied heavily on sound bites and buzzwords.”
“Our legal briefs have unmasked this stealth attack for what it is – an unprecedented attempt to reach even inside the four walls of a church to enforce state orthodoxy on homosexual behavior,” he said Oct. 31.
“We are looking forward to defending churches – and our children – in court.”
Pacific Justice Institute attorneys sought the legal injunction in a Sacramento federal court against S.B. 1172 in filings last week.
The broadly worded law prohibits any therapy “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex” among minors.
The law prohibits not only therapies that promote “conversion” to heterosexuality but bars therapy to change behavior and address unwanted attractions, even if the minors and their parents desire the therapy.
Backers of the bill include gay rights activists and mental health groups, who charge that reparative therapy may increase the risk of depression and suicide.
Bill May, president of Catholics for the Common Good, is one of the bill’s critics. He told CNA Nov. 5 that the bill endangers the well-being of youth and could affect counselors in Catholic schools.
“A priest or a nun or a lay Catholic person who is a licensed counselor or therapist could lose their license if they are treating a teenager who has gender confusion or unwanted same-sex attractions,” he said. “They cannot really, in the context of the therapy, witness to the truths of our faith and really treat the whole person.”
He said the bill restricts the rights of young people to be treated for gender confusion or same-sex attraction “even if these things are unwanted.”
“It also violates the rights of parents who love their children and act in the best interests of their children,” he said, pointing to State Sen. Ted Lieu’s comments that purpose of the bill is to prevent parents from harming their children.
“There’s no one who loves children more than parents; certainly not the state of California,” May said.
On October 4the Florida-based Liberty Counsel challenged the law on behalf of several plaintiffs. The plaintiffs include parents and their children who say they are benefiting from such counseling, several licensed counselors, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and the 50,000-member American Association for Christian Counselors.