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Judges told banning sex therapy unconstitutional

A legal brief filed by Liberty Counsel suggests to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a new state law in California banning reparative therapy for youth with unwanted same-sex attractions is far beyond what the Constitution allows government to mandate – or limit – in speech.

“The state took a cannon to kill a gnat,” the appeal brief on the issue of the state’s S.B. 1172, which purports to forbid counseling youth against same-sex attractions, said. “S.B. 1172 goes far beyond a narrow, or even reasonable, restriction on speech.”

It was last year when California lawmakers adopted bill to ban medical and counseling professionals from engaging in “change therapy,” a practice utilized to reduce homosexual urges in those who don’t want them.

The bill, if affirmed by the courts, would provide that any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider would be considered unprofessional conduct and would subject the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.

Liberty Counsel went to court over the issue, filing an emergency motion to temporarily block the law from going into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. It was granted and delayed the implementation.

Now the group has filed its final brief at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to pointing out the unconstitutionality of viewpoint discrimination, the brief also notes that a number of California counseling associations objected to a virtually identical version of the law, stating it was an “unprecedented regulation of psychotherapy,” and said the definition of “sexual orientation change efforts” was vague.

The brief also points to the 2009 American Psychological Association’s Task Force Report that admits sexual orientation, behavior, and identity are “fluid,” and thus capable of change. Yet, S.B. 1172 bans change therapy under any circumstance.

The new law “cuts to the heart of the First Amendment by censoring content, and, even worse, the viewpoint of speech on an otherwise permissible subject matter,” the brief said. “It cannot survive any level of scrutiny.”

The brief also explained, “A viewpoint-based speech restriction has never been upheld by the Supreme Court or any court. … S.B. 1172 is viewpoint-based because it allows counselors to discuss and clients to hear about the subject of sexual orientation, behavior, or identity (hereafter SSA), but precludes a particular viewpoint on that subject, namely that SSA can change. S.B. 1172 silences one viewpoint (change) on an otherwise permissible subject (SSA). Sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) in S.B. 1172 are defined as counseling that seeks to ‘eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex.'”

“The minors we represent have not and do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior. They are greatly benefiting from counseling,” said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “These minors have struggled with same-sex attraction and have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflict in their lives by receiving counseling that best aligns with their religious and moral values.

“This law is politically motivated to interfere with counselors and clients. The law is an unprecedented attempt to regulate what a counselor may say and what a client may hear. It crosses the line and violates the Constitution,” Staver said.

Liberty Counsel filed the lawsuit challenging the new law on October 4, 2012, on behalf of several parents and their children who are receiving and benefiting from such counseling; several licensed counselors who provide such counsel; the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH); and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), an organization with about 50,000 professional counseling members.

The law was adopted by majority Democrats in the state legislature and signed by Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown.

S.B. 1172 is from a legislature that also previously demanded that school children “celebrate” the life of pedophile Harvey Milk and banned any negative discussions about being “gay.”

WND has reported, California has adopted numerous sexual indoctrination bills, including S.B. 48, which requires positive portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in public school social studies and history classes.

Others cited by SaveCalifornia.com include: