The Mayans predict that the end of the world will occur this Friday. If we survive, litigants who support teen conversion therapy in California are predicting a different kind of doomsday scenario in less than two weeks.
Back in October, California adopted SB 1172, a law barring mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with patients under 18 years of age. This week, plaintiffs opposing SB 1172 continued their quest for an injunction against the bill.
Attorneys for two religiously-oriented therapists and a therapy student -- who claims to have successfully completed reparative therapy -- filed a lawsuit in October, claiming that SB 1172 would intrude on free speech, privacy and freedom of religion, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The district court declined to enjoin enactment of the bill.
In a reply filed with the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday, the group wrote, "Without immediate action by this Court, in a matter of days all Plaintiffs will face irreparable harm. With their licenses at stake ... the Counselors will be forced into silence. Their speech will be chilled. The minors who are benefiting from such counsel will abruptly be prevented from receiving counsel they have chosen. Their parents will be unable to care for their children and will also be prevented from receiving this beneficial counseling."
The plaintiffs argue that an injunction would maintain the status quo and prevent irreparable harm.
According to the reply, counselors are already offering SOCE therapy (change of sexual orientation, attractions, behavior, or identity), so allowing the ban to become effective would actually be a change from the status quo.
The plaintiffs further argue that SB 1172's directive that counselors cannot engage in SOCE counseling "under any circumstances" means that they will have to immediately discontinue speaking to existing and potential clients about SOCE out of fear of losing their professional licenses. That silence, in turn, would "place their licenses at risk in that they will be knowingly halting therapy that is beneficial for their clients."
The bill becomes effective January 1, so time is running out. Do you think the Ninth Circuit will enjoin the conversion therapy ban?
- Pickup v. Brown Preliminary Injunction Appeal (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Law Denying Hormone Therapy to Wisconsin Inmates Unconstitutional (FindLaw's Seventh Circuit Blog)
- Psychotherapy to Make Gay Teens Straight is Banned (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)