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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 4 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 27
SCOTUS gets one right: declines to review California law against conversion therapy
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SCOTUS gets one right: declines to review California law against conversion therapy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a California law prohibiting so-called 'conversion therapy' for minors.

The appeal had been filed by NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) and 'ex-Gay' therapist David Pickup, but was rejected without comment in a June 30 announcement by the high court.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled NARTH an anti-Gay hate group, and calls them the 'main source for anti-Gay junk science.' One of NARTH's founding members, the late Charles Socarides, was the father of openly Gay former Clinton staffer and current cable TV pundit Richard Socarides.

Pickup, who claims to have undergone successful conversion therapy in his 30s, runs a conversion practice in Glendale, California.

Conversion - or 'reparative' therapy as it is sometimes called - has been rejected by mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists. It often involves harsh or coercive measures, including aversion or isolation techniques, and has been likened to brainwashing or torture.

The appeal by Liberty Counsel on behalf of NARTH and Pickup was rejected twice by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before being brought to the Supreme Court. The high court is not obligated to entertain appeals.

The law was passed by the California legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012 and is the first of its kind in the nation. State licensed therapists who practice conversion therapy on minors are now subject to professional discipline through state licensing authorities.

The law was immediately challenged by two lawsuits claiming that it infringed the free speech rights of therapists.

The case was defended by California's Attorney General and by Equality California, which was represented in court by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said that 'This life-saving law has cleared the final hurdle and will now protect California youth from harmful practices that have been rejected by all leading medical and mental health organizations.

'This important legislation will permanently improve the health and well-being of California's most vulnerable LGBT young people. We look forward to more states joining California and New Jersey in preventing state-licensed therapists from engaging in discredited practices that offer no health benefits and put LGBT youth at risk of severe harm, including depression and suicide.'

Equality California Executive Director-Elect Rick Zbur agreed.

'The Supreme Court's decision to let Senate Bill 1172 protect our LGBT youth is a major step forward for California and our nation,' Zbur said in a statement. 'We are proud to live in the first state to protect young people from the lifelong damage caused by these horrific practices. We thank Senator Ted Lieu for authoring this bill, Speaker Emeritus John A. PĂ©rez for his bold leadership in helping to get the law passed, and Governor Jerry Brown for signing it into law.'

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