On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the country's first-of-its-kind law prohibiting health practitioners in California from using psychotherapy designed to "make" gay minors straight.
The appeal was summoned by "professionals" who perform sexual-orientation change therapy, two families that claim their teenage sons successfully converted, and a national association of Christian mental health counselors. Their argument stated "the ban infringes on their free speech and freedom of association and religious rights...and it jeopardizes their livelihoods."
The law under question declares that "therapists and counselors who treat minors with methods designed to eliminate or reduce their same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards."
The unanimous ruling stated that "California has the power to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies deemed harmful, and the fact that speech may be used to carry out those therapies does not turn such bans into prohibitions of speech."
Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, (and every other sane person) says the ban is "necessary to protect children from a coercive practice that can put them at increased risk of suicide." The therapy's performance has been questioned or outright rejected by every major mental health professional association.
Surprisingly, New Jersey is the only other state in the country to have passed a similar ban on conversion therapy.
Unfortunately, the ban only applies to licensed practitioners. Pastors and unlicensed counselors who provide conversion therapy in church programs would not be covered under the law.