Judge Issues Temporary Injunction Against California’s Gay Therapy Law

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2012

U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb has issued a very limited temporary injunction which bars the state of California from enforcing its ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) for minors when the law goes into effect on January 1. Judge Shubb limited the injunciton’s effectivity to the three ex-gay therapists who have sued to overturn the measure. According to the Associated Press:

U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb made a decision just hours after a hearing on the issue, ruling that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals who engage in “reparative” or “conversion” therapy outweigh concern that the practice poses a danger to young people.

“Even if SB 1172 is characterized as primarily aimed at regulating conduct, it also extends to forms of (conversion therapy) that utilize speech and, at a minimum, regulates conduct that has an incidental effect on speech,” Shubb wrote.

The judge also disputed the California Legislature’s finding that trying to change young people’s sexual orientation puts them at risk for suicide or depression, saying it was based on “questionable and scientifically incomplete studies.”

The injunctions applies only to the three plaintiffs: psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch, and student Aaron Blitzer who is studying to become an SOCE provider and who claims that he is now heterosexual after having undergone ex-gay therapy. Duk was a speaker at NARTH’s 2011 convention in Phoenix. Blitzer claims that he is now heterosexual after having undergone ex-gay therapy. The three plaintiffs are being represented by the Pacific Justice Institute.

In granting the injunctions, Judge Shubb indicated that the plaintiffs stand a good chance of getting the law struck down on constitutional grounds.

Last October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed S.B. 1172, making California the first in the nation to prohibit licensed professionals in the state from providing SOCE for minors. Therapists who violate the ban will be subject to discipline by the professional organization responsible for their licensing. The bill does not prohibit therapists from providing SOCE to adults, nor does it affect unlicensed counsellors, pastors, and other ex-gay therapy providers such as religious-based ex-gay ministries.

NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi recently admitted that about half of all NARTH clients are teens. NARTH and Liberty Counsel have also joined forces to fight the ban in a separate case in Federal Court.

Update:  Judge Shubb’s ruling is available here (via Scribd).

randy r. potts

December 4th, 2012

Do we have conclusive evidence that these programs can/do lead to depression, suicide, etc.? We have plenty of anecdotal evidence, and I personally believe that these programs lead to such things, but are there current attempts at creating studies that show this more scientifically? In the current lawsuit in New Jersey, we can at least show that the common reparative practices are well outside therapy norms.


December 4th, 2012

Will Blitzer be required to prove his “heterosexuality” in court?

Ben in Oakland

December 4th, 2012

I think it’s a good thing. Like in the prop 8 trial, lets start presenting their “evidence” in a court of law.

Should be fun.

Regan DuCasse

December 4th, 2012

I would like to see why being heterosexual is NECESSARY.
Why being gay requires a cure. It’s not a disease that’s infectious or poses a danger to it’s host or others.

Homosexuality doesn’t render a person anti social, or incapable of being productive, law abiding, responsible and self reliant.

The only criteria for a psychiatrist to get involved is if any of those issues are compromised by one’s emotional problems.
Which can also plague a heterosexual.
Yes, I’m with Ben on this.

Even someone claiming change into a heterosexual, needs to be honest about what made them want to be heterosexual.
Societal coercion? Not wanting to face prejudice or discrimination?
Nobody wants that.
But exploiting these factors is another matter.
And no business, claiming a compassionate reason, would exploit their client because of vulnerability to societal prejudice.
Nor engage in tactics that fomented the prejudice.
Certainly a minor, a child under the control of their parents would HAVE to be forced into this therapy.
No credentialed professional is allowed to tell a client their kid has cancer, knowing the parents and kid fear cancer.
They can’t say they have it when they don’t, then proceed to give them untested treatments to cure something that isn’t problematic to the individual. It’s problematic to those around them.
Big difference.
I don’t see how any legal analyst would say that this therapy deserves a free speech pass when it endangers young people this way.


December 4th, 2012

Where’s Wayne Besen with a camera when you need him?

Paul Mc

December 4th, 2012

Just read the judgement. Strict scrutiny should not have been applied. The bill is content and viewpoint neutral. Under SB1172 so-called therapists may talk about why homosexuality is wrong in their eyes but are not free to state that it is mental disorder from which they can be cured. That is legitimate regulation of speech related to conduct which the State legitimately sought to regulate because of known fact that homosexuality is not a disorder of any kind. That is not merely a ‘viewpoint’ or disagreement over ‘content’ of a therapy. It is a fact.

Is it merely a ‘ viewpoint’ that cancer can be cured using drugs? Does the State allow snake oil salesmen?

Having wrongly applied strict scrutiny, the Judge then messes up on the evidence supporting the protection of minors. The very reason that there isn’t voluminous evidence to support the conclusion that so-called SOCE is harmful, is because it would be unethical to use the kind of randomised control science he seemed to be looking for, in a field where mental health professionals, (real ones, not the pretend priests of delusion aka Plaintiffs in this appeal) ALL agree that homosexuality is not a disorder, least of all to find evidence from minors.

Does the State need an RCT and longitudinal study to ban unorthodox risky psychologically invasive treatments to change left handers to right handers? That would be a return to the dark ages of neurological ignorance. No one would tolerate the collection of evidence to prove or disprove harm there. We no longer live in that age, except apparently for the Eastern Distict Court of CA.


December 4th, 2012

So.. what forms of therapy don’t ‘utilize speech’?

Surely their must be countless varieities of therapy that involve the patient and the professional mainataining complete and utter silence. It’s not like every single form of therapy ever created involved speaking to the client and that this same argument could be used to defend any sort of quackery you wished.

“Well yeah theirs absolutely no proof that me dancing around patients singing Beatles songs cures bipolar people, but I demand the state license me because it’s my freedom of speech!”

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