Right-Wing Liberty Counsel Opposes California’s Ban On Ex-Gay Therapy

Liberty Counsel, a right-wing public-interest law firm and ministry with ties to anti-gay groups, has come out in opposition to the ban on reparative therapy that was passed by the California Legislature last week.

Big shock there.

But we are a little surprised that the Counsel is essentially suggesting there should be no oversight in any kind of therapeutic care

In a statement on its website, LC issued this statement:

“If the bill is signed into law, Liberty Counsel will sue on behalf of counselors, parents, and minors who provide, refer, or who receive and have found change therapy to be beneficial,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

The bill defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as any practice that is designed to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction. Such broad language will prohibit any counseling that does not affirm and encourage experimentation with or acceptance of same-sex attractions, regardless of whether those feelings and attractions are unwanted by the counselee. The bill not only prohibits this type of treatment, but it makes it an ethical violation for any counselor or therapist to engage in it.

If the governor signs this law, mental health professionals will find themselves in a catch-22,” Staver said. Therapists have an ethical obligation to help clients deal with conflict. If a counselee is experiencing conflict between religious beliefs and same-sex attractions and wants to prioritize these beliefs over such attractions, the counselor is ethically obligated to directly help the client or refer for help. Under this bill, the counselor will be forced to disregard the client’s religious beliefs or change them. This bill will harm minors, undermine parental rights, and interfere with the rights of counselors. This bill and the ethical codes of all of the licensing boards in California are on an inevitable collision course,” said Staver. “The licenses of countless mental health professionals hang in the balance.”

The implications of the government determining what counseling treatments are acceptable should concern every counselor and citizen,” said Staver. “That decision should be left to the patient, the parents, and the doctors. The government has no place in that conversation,” Staver concluded.

The government has no place in vetting medical treatments? Perhaps the government should have no role in determining what food or drugs are acceptable to bring to market, either? If we want to sell arsenic as a health supplement and you’re willing to buy it, the FDA shouldn’t be allowed to step in, right?

For decades, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and every other reputable medical and therapeutic organization have said reparative therapy isn’t just ineffective, it’s dangerous. But just because it’s about sexual orientation and not, say, cancer, Staver thinks these groups should allow their members to practice treatments they’ve determined pose a risk to patients.

In recent years, Liberty Counsel has submitted briefs in favor of Lawrence v Texas‘ criminalization of homosexual sexual activity, condoning protests at reproductive-care clinics and attacking New York’s marriage-equality law.

Maybe they should think about changing their name?