Friday, April 19, 2013

California’s “gay therapy” bill in Federal Appeals Court

While the Supreme Court in Washington is busy mulling over the fates of California's Proposition 8, which amended that state's constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in Hollingsworth v. Perry, and United States v. Windsor, challenging federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"),which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, the Ninth Circuit out of San Francisco this week was again hearing a case on yet another aspect of same-sex relationships & marriage: this time challenging a ban on "sexual orientation change efforts" that was passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall -- a so-called "first-of-its-kind law" that prohibits licensed mental health professionals in California from offering therapies aimed at making gay and lesbian teenagers straight – and whether that violates the civil rights of practitioners and parents. (SB 1172) reported that that ban, passed by the State of California Sept. 30, 2012, had been scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, but was put on hold by the 9th Circuit pending resolution of two closely watched cases – which spurred similar legislation still being considered by lawmakers in New Jersey.

Suits had been filed seeking to enjoin the implementation of the new law, resulting in two Sacramento-based trial judges handling the cases last December to reach differing conclusions on whether the ban violates the U.S. Constitution, according to USAToday: one refused to block the law after ruling that the plaintiffs were unlikely to prove the prohibition unfairly tramples on their civil rights and should therefore be overturned. The other said he found the First Amendment issues presented by the ban to be compelling and ordered the state to temporarily exempt the three people named in the case before him. The New York Times had this article at the time.

The Ninth Circuit has the cases consolidated.

It is noteworthy to note as well that "Due to the level of interest in this case, the Ninth Circuit has created a separate page on its website to notify the media and public of procedures and rules for admission to proceedings, as well as access to case information in these proceedings."

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