Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

CA Senate OKs ban on ‘ex-gay’ therapy

The California state Senate has approved a bill designed to limit mental health providers’ ability to engage in sexual orientation change efforts sometimes called “ex-gay” or conversion therapy.

If the Assembly approves SB 1172, authored by Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance, seen at left), and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signs it, the measure would make California the first state in the country to ban licensed mental health professionals from engaging in such therapy efforts for a minor patient, regardless of a parent’s willingness or desire to authorize participation, according to bill sponsor Equality California.

The Senate voted 23 to 13 Wednesday, May 30, to pass the bill.

“Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder,” Lieu said in an EQCA statement. “The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition.”

Opponents of sexual orientation change efforts say the therapy poses risks of depression and suicide, among other problems.

“Too many young people have taken their own lives or suffered lifelong harm after being told, falsely, by a therapist or counselor that who they are is wrong, sick or the result of personal or moral failure,” stated EQCA board President Clarissa Filgioun. “Legislative action is long overdue to end the abuse of sexual orientation change efforts and for the state to fulfill its duty to protect consumers – especially youth – from therapeutic misconduct.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Mental Health America of Northern California, Gaylesta, and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund are also sponsors of SB 1172, according to EQCA.

Also Wednesday, the Senate passed SB 1476, which modernizes state law to ensure that a judge has the option to rule in the best interests of a child by recognizing more than two parent-child relationships, if they apply to that family.

The legislation, which would clarify existing law, would be applied in cases involving both same-sex and straight parents.

Out gay Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill, said in a statement, “We live in a world today where courts are dealing with diverse circumstances that have reshaped California families. This legislation gives courts the flexibility to protect the best interests of a child who is being supported financially and emotionally by those parents. It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents, especially when a family is in distress and a child’s security is a concern.”

The vote was 24-13. The bill goes next to the Assembly.

SB 1476 is sponsored by the Children’s Advocacy Institute and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 31, 2012 @ 11:02 am PST
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