Judge temporarily blocks California's ban on gay conversion therapy

The law banned therapists from using "sexual orientation change efforts" on minors

By Jillian Rayfield

Published December 4, 2012 10:18PM (EST)

           (<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-149512p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Olga Besnard</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>)
(Olga Besnard / Shutterstock.com)

A federal judge temporarily halted a California law that banned therapists from using gay conversion therapy on minors, ruling that the law could possibly violate the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge William Shubb placed a temporary injunction on a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed earlier this year that banned the use of "conversion" therapy on those under 18, known as "sexual orientation change efforts," which claim to be able to turn a gay person straight.

But three people filed suit against the law arguing that it was unconstitutional, including "a licensed marriage and family therapist who is also an ordained minister; a medical doctor and board-certified psychiatrist who works with people over 16 years old; and a man who was sexually attracted to other men but who wanted to practice conversion therapy to 'help' men like him," CNN reports.

Judge Shubb wrote in his order that the decision only applies to the three plaintiffs, and that "evidence that [sexual orientation change efforts] 'may' cause harm to minors based on questionable and scientifically incomplete studies that may not have included minors is unlikely to satisfy the demands of strict scrutiny."

"California has arguably survived 150 years without this law and it would be a stretch of reason to conclude that it would suffer significant harm having to wait a few more months to know whether the law is enforceable as against the three plaintiffs in this case," he wrote.

The ruling was made about a week after four men in New Jersey sued the group Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) for fraud, claiming that the group falsely promised a cure for being gay, but that during therapy sessions the plaintiffs "were sometimes ordered to remove all of their clothing; in other sessions they were told to beat effigies of their mothers with tennis rackets or were subjected to homosexual slurs, according to the complaint."

According to the American Psychological Association website, "To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective."

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

MORE FROM Jillian Rayfield

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

California First Amendment Gay Conversion Therapy Gay Rights Jerry Brown