The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider the case against California’s law banning conversion therapy, a controversial practice that claims to reverse homosexuality in children. The court’s declination allows the state to being enforcing the ban. The court did not give a reason for rejecting the case.
By not hearing the case, the court has upheld last year’s appeals court ruling that prohibits the practice of “gay conversion therapy” for minors. The appeals court ruled that law does not violate the First Amendment right to free speech of counselors or parents, a claim made by Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal aid group.
Author of the measure, Sen. Ted Lieu, lauded the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the arguments against the ban. He said that by refusing to accept the entreaties of ideological therapists who practice “the quackery” of such therapy, the court has issued a victory for science, child welfare and basic humane principles. He also said that groups who oppose letting children be what they were born to be can no longer claim that the law breaches the free speech rights of therapists who wish to engage in these dangerous and long-discredited practices.
With last August’s ruling, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals settled two lawsuits which sought to keep the measure from being enforced. The law bans therapists from practicing conversion therapy, also known as reparative or change therapy, on children and teens under 18. Liberty Counsel, petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene, arguing that lawmakers had no scientific basis for their argument that conversion therapy is harmful.
Chairman and founder of Liberty Counsel, Mathew Staver expressed his disappointment with the court’s refusal, saying he is deeply saddened for the families the group represents. “And for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile,” he added.
Staver said the children and teens the group represents neither wish to act on same-sex attractions nor do they desire to engage in same-sex behaviors. He said they benefit greatly from the counseling.
Medical and national psychiatric organizations believe these treatments are deceptive and dangerous, and in some cases can lead to depression or suicidal impulses. Conversion therapy methods include counseling and training, encouraging interactions with the opposite sex, together with hypnosis and aversive methods such as hormone treatment.
California became the first state to ban conversion therapy among minors in 2012 after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure into law. Last year, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey signed a similar measure into law. Gay rights advocates, who believe the practice has no medical basis and is psychologically harmful to gay and lesbian youths, won a victory with the ban. The law was also supported by the California Board of Behavioral Science and the California Psychological Association.
Because the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the state can now legally begin enforcing the conversion therapy ban. It had yet to be implemented because of the pending lawsuits filed by Christian groups trying to impede it.
By Brandi M. Fleeks