The ink has yet to dry on a controversial new California law that prohibits conversion therapy for minors with same-sex attraction and several lawsuits are already in the works.
ABC News is reporting that Aaron Blitzer, who claimed to have been helped by such therapy and is studying to be a therapist in the same field, has filed a suit along with two therapists claiming the law banning so-called “gay cures” for minors infringes on First Amendment protections of free speech, privacy and freedom of religion.
The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California names as defendants California Gov. Jerry Brown, as well as 21 state officials, including members of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Medical Board.
The two other plaintiffs in the case are Dr. Anthony Duk, a psychiatrist and practicing Roman Catholic, and Donald Welsch, a licensed family therapist and ordained minister who operates a Christian counseling center in San Diego. Both practitioners charge that the law will restrict their counseling practices.
The law prohibits children younger than 18 from undergoing “sexual orientation change efforts” at the hands of licensed therapists. Therapists who practice therapy that attempts to turn gay youth straight can now lose their licenses under the state’s ban, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2013. Although the new law bans licensed therapists from administering ex-gay therapy, it does not affect religious groups or ministers.
Critics of the law say the language is so broad that it effectively prohibits any counseling that does not encourage experimentation with or acceptance of same-sex attractions, regardless of whether those feelings and attractions are wanted by the counselee.
“It’s it’s an egregious violation of the rights of young people feeling same-sex attraction, and of parents and counselors who feel it would be beneficial for the individual needs of a young person,” said Brad Dacus, president and attorney for the Pacific Justice Institute, which asked a federal judge to prevent the law from taking effect.
“The legislature had an errant assumption that every individual struggling with same-sex attraction is caused by their DNA,” he said. “It ignores thousands, including the plaintiff, who have gone through therapy and are now in a happy and healthy heterosexual relationship.”
At the same time, the pro-family law firm Liberty Counsel has said it is filing a lawsuit on behalf of counselors, parents and their minor children, and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) against the legislation.
“The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, to LifeSiteNews.com.
“A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions,” said Staver.
California State Senator Ted Lieu, the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, openly admitted that the bill was aimed at stripping parents of their rights in this particular area. “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill, because we don’t want to let parents harm their children,” Lieu said in a statement released Sept. 30.
“No one should stand idly by while children are being psychological abused, and anyone who forces a child to try to change their sexual orientation must understand this is unacceptable.”
However, many believe the state has overstepped its role.
“Your bill will turn California into a nanny state by usurping the civil rights of parents who support their child’s right to receive therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions, especially when that child has been sexually molested,” said the California-based group known as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays in a recent open letter to Lieu. “This smacks of fascism and ex-gay bashing.”
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