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Appeals court blocks Calif. gay therapy ban

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP) — A federal appeals court shortly before Christmas blocked a California ban on “reparative therapy,” giving concerned parents the right, for now, to seek counsel for a child with homosexual tendencies.

The first-of-its-kind ban would have gone into effect at the start of this year, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency order putting the law on hold until the court can hear full arguments on the measure’s constitutionality.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mathew Staver, whose Christian legal aide group represents reparative therapy practitioners and recipients in a suit seeking to overturn the law, applauded the court’s decision to grant his request to delay its implementation.

“Without this emergency injunction, the State of California would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior,” Staver said.

The law, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, says that therapists and counselors who use “sexual orientation change efforts” on minors would be practicing unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards.

Earlier in December, two federal trial judges in California issued conflicting rulings about whether the law violates the U.S. Constitution. One judge said the plaintiffs were unlikely to prove the ban infringed on their civil rights. Another judge found the First Amendment issues presented by the ban compelling enough to exempt three plaintiffs from complying with the new requirements.

The appeals court’s order prevents California from enforcing the law, SB1172, until a three-judge panel considers if the measure violates the First Amendment rights of therapists and parents.

“Liberty Counsel is thankful that the 9th Circuit blocked the law from going into effect,” Staver said. “This law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and would have caused irreparable harm.”
This story first appeared in World News Service.

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