The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two decisions on Monday — Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Harris v. Quinn — that made major headlines. But the high court also issued a ruling that received far less attention from the media. The Associated Press reports that the nine-member panel “cleared the way … for enforcement of a first-of-its-kind California law that bars psychological counseling aimed at turning gay minors straight.”
The justices turned aside a legal challenge brought by supporters of so-called conversion or reparative therapy. Without comment, they let stand an August 2013 appeals court ruling that said the ban covered professional activities that are within the state’s authority to regulate and doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.
According to Equality on Trial, a website that focuses on LGBT news from the courts, there were actually two related cases, Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown, on the docket. SCOTUS declined to take up either case, which effectively means the ban will remain in effect.
The AP quotes State Sen. Ted Lieu, the law’s sponsor, as having said:
The Supreme Court has cement [sic] shut any possible opening to allow further psychological child abuse in California. The Court’s refusal to accept the appeal of extreme ideological therapists who practice the quackery of gay conversion therapy is a victory for child welfare, science and basic humane principles.
Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal aid group that had challenged the law, argues that lawmakers have no scientific proof the therapy does harm. The group’s chairman, Mat Staver, said in a statement:
I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel. The minors we represent do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior.
Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California lawmakers had adequately demonstrated that therapies designed to change sexual orientation for those under the age of 18 were outside the scientific mainstream and have been disavowed by most major medical groups as unproven and potentially dangerous.
But the 9th Circuit Court, which has the highest percentage (68%) of sitting judges appointed by Democratic presidents, is notorious for its liberal interpretations of the law. Despite the court’s willingness to accept as gospel testimony culled from one side of the debate, much has appeared in the medical literature that suggests that homosexuality is a curable disorder.
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