On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco heard arguments on whether a law that bans gay "conversion therapy" for minors is a violation of First Amendment rights or a cogent effort to protect children from potentially harmful and undue treatment for homosexuality, something that has been long understood in the mental health industry to not be a disease in need of a cure.
After the law was adopted into California law last year by governor Jerry Brown, several Christian groups decided to sue to have it overturned, claiming that it's unconstitutional to deny therapists the right to present "information" to minors on "same-sex attraction." A temporary block was placed on the law by a federal appeals court back in December until it could hear more arguments.
They finally had their day in court yesterday. The Liberty Counsel (a law firm/ministry in defense of "Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the traditional family" that is affiliated with Jerry Falwell's Liberty University) along with Pacific Justice (another religious defense organization, who notably does not want gay people in the Boy Scouts) argued:
Our case is about protecting the First Amendment rights of young people to get the counseling they feel they need, their parents may feel they need and that a licensed counselor may feel they need.
But 40 years ago, homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a category of disorder, so why would a child even need therapy for being gay?
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris argued in support of the law, saying that not only does it "prohibit licensed mental health professionals from treating children and teenagers with a discredited, ineffective, and unsafe therapy in a misguided effort to change their sexual orientation," but that it's "an exercise of the state's power to regulate professional conduct" and prevent malpractice.
Image via Vasiliy Ptitsyn/Shutterstock