October 1, 2012
Liberty Counsel to File Suit Against California’s Ban on Change Therapy
Sacramento, CA – In anticipation that California Governor Jerry Brown would sign the new law banning change therapy, Liberty Counsel has been preparing a lawsuit on behalf of counselors, parents and their minor children, and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
In signing the bill, Gov. Brown said that change therapy “will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”
“The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “A number of minors who have struggled with same-sex attraction have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflicts in their lives by receiving counseling of their choice which best meets their needs and religious convictions. This bill will harm children, stress families, and place counselors in a catch-22, because they will be forced to violate their licensing ethical codes,” said Staver.
The law defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as any practice that is designed to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction. Such broad language will prohibit any counseling that does not affirm and encourage experimentation with or acceptance of same-sex attractions, regardless of whether those feelings and attractions are unwanted by the counselee. The bill not only prohibits this type of treatment, but it makes it an ethical violation for any counselor or therapist to engage in it. But, if the counselor does not provide the client with such counseling or a source where such counseling may be obtained when the client requests same, the counselor will also violate their licensing ethical code.
“We are filing on behalf of mental health professionals who find themselves in a catch-22,” Staver said. Therapists have an ethical obligation to help clients deal with conflict. If a client is experiencing conflict between religious beliefs and same-sex attractions and wants to prioritize those beliefs over such attractions, the counselor is ethically obligated to directly help or refer for help. Under this law, the counselor will be forced to disregard the client’s religious beliefs or change them. “This bill and the ethical codes of all of the licensing boards in California are on an inevitable collision course,” Staver said. “The licenses of countless mental health professionals hang in the balance.”
“This law undermines parental rights,” Staver pointed out. “Mental health decisions should be left to the patient, the parents, and the counselors – not to the government to license one viewpoint,” Staver concluded.
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