CA Senate Votes To Ban Reparative Therapy For Minors

Today, the California State Senate approved SB 1172, which would prohibit mental-health professionals from providing so-called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy to minors, even with the approval of the patient’s parents. If approved by the Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown, the measure would make California the first state to block efforts at sexual-orientation conversion.

“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” said Senator Ted Lieu, who authored the bill. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”

The American Psychiatric Association has stood in opposition to reparative therapy since 2000.

“Too many young people have taken their own lives or suffered lifelong harm after being told, falsely, by a therapist or counselor that who they are is wrong, sick or the result of personal or moral failure,” said Clarissa Filgioun, board president of Equality California. “Legislative action is long overdue to end the abuse of sexual orientation change efforts and for the state to fulfill its duty to protect consumers—especially youth—from therapeutic misconduct.”

While SB 1172 would protect minors from being forced into therapy with licensed professionals, it doesn’t look like it would protect them from homophobic preachers hoping to show them how to “pray away the gay” in a non-therapeutic setting.

Can we get a bill for that?


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  • Jim H.

    Nothing can be done to prohibit reparative counseling in a religious setting. That is obviously constitutionally protected and beyond the reach of legislators.

  • Scott

    Finally! What are the chances it becomes law? The bill should also define “reparative therapy” as child abuse.

  • Dame

    Or torture.

  • anon

    Are we so sure freedom of religion applies to pray-the-gay-away efforts? There must be a loophole to crush that too, although maybe not now. Killing the infidel or polygamy exist in various religions, yet they are not protected by freedom of religion in the USA. There must be a way for talented, motivated lawyers to get pray-the-gay-away efforts illegal. Good luck with that, though.

  • R.A.

    They can do it as religion of course, but any therapist practicing this quackery would lose his license.

  • J.M17

    I honestly don’t want to come out to my mum ANY time soon. Being a teenager & living in Africa, well… the result would be perhaps this forced so-called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy. And no, we’re AGES from getting to the point where SB 1172 etc. will be approved, let alone implemented.


  • B

    No. 2 · Scott wrote, “Finally! What are the chances it becomes law?”

    The chances are pretty good – the Republicans are a minority in both the California state senate and assembly, and the governor, Jerry Brown, is a Democrat who was previously our attorney general. He “defended” Proposition Eight in a case sent to the California Supreme Court by saying that it was an amendment and not a revision of the state constitution (which was what the case was about), but when the supreme court asked him for an opinion of it, he stated that it was unconstitutional for other reasons. He then refused to defend a challenge to Proposition Eight in federal court on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and defending it was a waste of money, making him sort of a fiscal conservative but social liberal (I guess).

    Let’s just say that the social conservatives do not like Jerry Brown, and never had.

  • Daez

    @Jim H.: I do not agree. Child abuse that occurs in a church setting is still child abuse. In that case, you take the child away from the situation. There are many documented cases of religious practices being shut down when they were harming children.


  • erasure25

    @Scott: Pretty good. As others have said, Republicans are a minority in both houses of California’s State government. Republicans also hold zero (0) statewide offices. The attorney general, Kamala Harris, is a staunch ally of LGBT rights and also refused to defend Prop 8, just as Gov. Brown when he was AG.

  • Jim H.

    @Daez: This is, admittedly, a notoriously tricky area of constitutional law, but I think your conclusion is wrong. A regulation that were drafted to cover non-professional reparative counseling would probably be subject to strict scrutiny because such counseling almost always occurs in a religious setting (thus the government could not really claim a law of general applicability). Such a regulation would probably also be subject to heightened scrutiny on other, non-religious First Amendment bases, but I’ll ignore those for now.

    So then the question becomes whether the subject matter of the regulation itself is consistent with the Free Exercise clause. It is true that the free exercise of religion is NOT a defense to crimes — but the Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that the crimes have to be of the sort that have traditionally allowed government encroachment on putatively religious activities. (Circular, huh?)

    The bottom line, as usual, is social/political consensus. We have social consensus that rape, murder, physical abuse, tax evasion, and so on are activities that are obviously criminal and deserve no religious protection. But we are a long, LONG way from having any sort of consensus that reparative counseling is child abuse. The state could declare it so by fiat, but that would not hold any weight in a constitutional challenge.

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