A step forward for LGBT youth in California

Daniel Perret-Goluboff

California took an admirable step forward this Sunday as Governor Gerry Brown signed a bill into law prohibiting therapists from administering “sexual orientation change therapy” onto any patients under the age of 18 (SB 1172).

A select group of Californians then took an unfortunate fall backwards when The Pacific Justice Institute filed a lawsuit the next day attempting to block the law and citing it as “interfering with the individual professional judgment of medical professionals.”

There is certainly cause for celebration here. The initial passage of this law represents an ongoing social change in America moving towards more progressive and informed viewpoints regarding homosexuality. The attempt to block the law, however, serves as a bitter reminder of the blind prejudice and misinformation many still hold regarding this delicate subject matter.

Unless blocked, the law is scheduled to come into effect in California Jan. 1, 2013. The arguments used by the opposition of the law strike my liberal bias — and common sense — as weak and offensive.

Essentially, they insinuate that homosexuality is often a byproduct of sexual abuse at a young age and is entirely unwanted by youth. Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, went so far as to dub the law both “freedom-killing” and “outrageously unconstitutional” while also taking the time to note it as disrespectful to religious freedoms in America.

Of course, these critiques are unsound both in logic and in structure, as they attempt to deny the notion that “cures” for homosexuality are not based in science and have often lead to regrettable and tragic consequences for the teenagers who undergo them.

Perhaps the least credible facet of the movement to block this law is that it posits that psychologists and psychiatrists should be protected against medical malpractice in these endeavors under the first amendment simply because their practice involves speech.

It seems hard to believe that anyone could get behind such a backwards purpose, attempting to block this bill from entering into law, but the bandwagon is quickly filling with those who desire the ‘sick’ to be ‘cured.’

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality announced earlier this week that it also intended to file a lawsuit with the aim of rescinding the bill. NARTH also cited that their issue with the bill is that it will force medical professionals in California to discriminate against youth who desire to rid themselves of their unwanted homosexuality. A representative for The Pacific Justice Institute was quoted as saying that they were filing suit “to defend children, families and religious freedom.”

Despite the cloud of ignorance surrounding the passage of this bill, there is certainly cause for celebration in that it seems unimaginable that the law will be repealed. Prejudice and hateful beliefs regarding homosexuality will, in all likelihood, be omnipresent in America, but this bill serves as a sign of progress in our nation’s views towards homosexuality.

The efforts to stop its positive effects are unsettling, but are unlikely to be effective. Kate Kendell, executive director for the Center for Lesbian Rights, may have best described the bills opposition: “This is a last-ditch effort to defend the indefensible.”