Last year California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California SB 1172, which makes it illegal to provide “conversion” or “reparative” therapy to homosexuals under the age of 18 in the state. The issue is whether this an unremarkable and rational exercise of the police power of the state or an infringement of First Amendment rights. Supporters of the bill assert that the “antigay” therapy is worthless pseudoscience and has the potential of harming young homosexuals who are struggling with identity and self worth issues. They claim that homosexuality is not a disease or an assumed condition, but an intrinsic or genetic positioning on a natural scale of human sexuality.
The case is now before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. Two separate U.S. District Courts in the state came to differing conclusions as to the statute’s constitutionality. The suit is sponsored by two conservative groups, the Pacific Justice Institute (Sacramento) and Liberty Counsel (Liberty University in Virginia). It charges that the state has taken sides in what is an untested scientific dispute.
The proponents of the bill assert there is no real dispute as to the etiology of homosexual preferences and that so called “gay cures” cause real and lasting harm.
This case may be viewed as a companion case to civil suits pending in New Jersey against gay cure sponsors by gay men who claim to have been traumatized by conversion therapy efforts.