Well it certainly didn't take them very long, now did it? This past Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1172, a piece of legislation sponsored by LA Area state Senator Ted Lieu which will, as of January 1, ban the use of "conversion therapy" on minors under the age of 18.
And already we see not just one but TWO lawsuits announced in an attempt to get quacks the right to practice quack mental health care and endanger the lives of LGBT teens.
Follow me below the squiggle and I'll give you the information I can glean, along with some attitude about how I think those suits will fare.
The first of these suits was announced yesterday by right-wing legal thinktank Liberty Counsel on behalf of a group known as NARTH, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (Warning: clicking the first link will take you to Liberty Counsel's press release. Clicking the second link, on the other hand, will take you to the Southern Poverty Law Counsel's website. You decide.)
NARTH, you may recall, was founded by therapists who were disappointed that the American Psychiatric Association and other mainstream groups refuse to consider homosexuality a "disorder." Among the founders of NARTH is the late Charles Socarides, whose son, ironically, is an out gay man who served as President Bill Clinton's advisor to the LGBT community. You may further recall that a couple of years ago NARTH received some publicity, of a type they'd probably just as soon have done with done without when George Rekers, at the time one of NARTH's "scientific advisors" was photographed at Miami International Airport in the company of a 20-year-old male prostitute who Rekers had hired off the website rentboy.com (sorry, no link; I'm at work), supposedly to cough "carry Rekers' luggage." Suddenly Rekers was no longer on NARTH's advisory board. Incidentally, if you follow the SPLC link above you'll see references to the sort of folks the nice people at NARTH like to associate themselves with.
Today saw a SECOND lawsuit announced, this one to be filed by Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute (once again, this link goes directly to PJI's site so, once again, you've been warned). This second suit will seek an injunction on behalf of "families, children and religious freedom." Dacus was most recently behind not just one but TWO unsuccessful attempts to block another piece of California legislation that mandates the inclusion of the accomplishments of LGBT individuals, as well as the accomplishments of the disabled, in the teaching of history in California public schools.
On the one hand, it's unfortunate that anyone would choose to file suit seeking the right to essentially practice child abuse, supposedly in the name of "religious freedom." On the other hand, I almost look forward to these cases going to trial. The result could be a sort of mashup of the most delicious aspects of the courtroom trial regarding Prop 8 and the trial, a few years ago, that basically resulted in the removal of "Intelligent Design" from public school science curricula.
As one of the lead attorneys in the Prop 8 trial noted, the witness stand is a lonely place because it's one thing to make statements in press releases; it's another to testify in court. As much as it pains me that the implementation of SB 1172 could be delayed, I'm inclined to say "bring it on."
I don't think most people here really need to be reminded of this, but these attempts to "pray away the gay" have been shown, over and over and over again, to be unsuccessful, to the point where even some of the organizations that oppose gay rights are backing off from the idea that such a thing is actually possible. At the same time, it has also been proven repeatedly that these attempts, inflicted on minors, present the real possibility of inflicting further harm on an already fragile population. By some accounts, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning teens are up to four times as likely as their straight-identified peers to attempt suicide. It might even be a good thing if the testimony of actual experts who've studied the effects of this so-called therapy were to be presented, on the record, in a courtroom setting. And if the right wing wants to use their money filing suits that are bound to fail, that's just a bit less money available to them for other nefarious purposes.
There is the further irony that both of these lawsuits attempt to block a law which provides for no civil or criminal penalties in the event it is violated. Instead it mandates only that violators be subject to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.