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Lawsuit in federal court seeks to block law banning gay 'conversion' therapy

October 2, 2012 | 10:05 am

The conservative Pacific Justice Institute has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block a new state law that will prohibit providing minors with "conversion" therapy that seeks to change its subject's sexual orientation from gay to straight.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1172 into law on Sunday, and it is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Brown condemned the practice in a statement, saying, "This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."

But the Pacific Justice Institute said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Sacramento that the bill by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) violates free speech rights of therapists and privacy rights of patients and parents. The bill is "outrageously unconstitutional," said Brad Dacus, president of the institute.

“Of all the freedom-killing bills we have seen in our legislature the last several years, this is among the worst,” Dacus said. "This outrageous bill makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction, nor does it respect the consciences of mental health professionals who work in a church. We are filing suit to defend families, children and religious freedom."

The lawsuit was denounced as meritless by Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rigghts. ``This lawsuit is a desperate, last ditch effort to defend the indefensible,’’ Kendell said.


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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento