Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last week that made California the first state to ban “conversion therapy” — a type of psychotherapy aimed to reverse homosexual tendencies. The law will go into effect Jan. 1 and will stop mental health professionals from encouraging clients under the age of 18 to change their sexual orientations. Therapy with intent to persuade thinking is dangerous, and as Brown said, such practices are not based on science and have led gay teens to depression and suicide.
Lawyers from two Christian legal groups, the California-based Pacific Justice Institute and Florida-based Liberty Counsel, argue the ban is a violation of the First Amendment because it goes against therapists’ free speech rights.
Even though California can’t stop supporters for this type of therapy from privately using counseling and prayer to help “cure” homosexuality, banning it in a medical setting will hopefully lead other states to do the same.
Last week, in wake of the ban, the Southern Poverty Law Center requested the investigation of “conversion therapy” in two professional psychiatric associations based in Oregon. Concern sparked when a psychiatrist tried to change the sexual orientation of a patient who sought out treatment to help his depression.
Being homosexual is not a disorder, and it shouldn’t be treated as a disease that can be reversed with therapy. Medical professionals should exercise their free speech rights by helping people, not by trying to convince their patients to change who they are. Making the practice illegal is a step in the right direction, and other states including Minnesota should investigate the issue and look to pass a similar ban.