Appeals Court Declines Further Review of Challenge to State Law Banning Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

January 30, 2014 8:00 am · 47 comments

A California law banning sexual orientation conversion therapy for youths under age 18 was left in place by a federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a request by a group of counselors, parents and teenagers to have an 11-judge panel review an earlier decision in which a three-judge panel upheld the law.

The circuit court action means that the only remaining step open to the therapists and families challenging the 2012 law would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mathew Staver, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, was not immediately available for comment on whether there will be an appeal to the high court.

Shannon Minter, an attorney who defended the law, said, “Today’s decision affirms that California can protect young people and their families from being deceived and harmed by unethical therapists who falsely claim they can change a person’s sexual orientation.”

“These practices have no scientific basis and can cause serious, lasting harms that devastate families and destroy young lives,” said Minter, who works with the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.

The center represented Equality California, a gay rights organization that was allowed to join state Attorney General Kamala Harris as an official party defending the law.

The California law prohibiting “sexual orientation change efforts” for minors, sometimes known as gay conversion therapy, by state-licensed mental health providers was the first of its kind in the nation.

Last year, New Jersey adopted a similar law, which is currently being appealed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

The California law was challenged in two separate lawsuits filed in federal court in Sacramento, which were considered together by the 9th Circuit.

In the appeals court’s earlier ruling, a three-judge panel in August unanimously rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that the law violated mental health providers’ constitutional right of free speech.

The panel said the law regulated conduct rather than speech, did not violate parents’ rights and fell within the state’s authority to use its licensing power to protect the well-being of minors.

A vote by the appeals court on whether to grant reconsideration by an 11-judge panel, known as an en banc panel, in a case is referred to the full circuit court, which currently has 27 fulltime judges.

In today’s order denying an en banc hearing, three of the 27 judges said in a dissent that they favored granting the review.

Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in the dissent that he believed the law regulated speech and should be judged under principles of constitutional First Amendment protection of free speech.

But he and his two colleagues said they were not taking a position at this point on whether the law is constitutional.

“The regulation at issue may very well constitute a valid exercise of California’s police power” even when reviewed under First Amendment standards, O’Scannlain wrote.

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JET January 30, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Glad that the CA is doing what is right!
Hopefully someday, these so called ‘gay conversion therapies’ will be nonexistent. They do terrible damage to those they ‘treat’.
People are born gay, it is not something that can be changed – same as the color of our skin, etc. My hope is that someday everyone understands this and treats everyone the same.

Taking away more personal choices January 30, 2014 at 8:44 AM

So, they want to take away that option from us?

JLG January 30, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Oh yes the Government taking away choices of the Dark ages.

anon January 30, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Can anyone be so stupid to beleive that works?

Phil Robertson January 30, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Isn’t it interesting that when you break it down “Therapist” spells “The rapist”?

Chad D January 30, 2014 at 9:25 AM

#2 – so let me get this right…. you think that putting someone into conversion therapy to change something that CANNOT be changed is a good idea and you would like to keep that right to do so?

Umm, okay…..

Futurama January 30, 2014 at 9:25 AM

@2 no…. they don’t want to review challenges to a law already in place.

Mr. Pink January 30, 2014 at 9:35 AM

“sexual orientation conversion therapy” ? What century are we living in? Bust out the leeches and cranium drills.

@serpentine January 30, 2014 at 10:30 AM

I am supposing you have no children, many studies
have shown that by ages 7to9 a child’s self awareness
is firmly on track. At this point every thing they
have been exposed to prior ,has engrained itself into
their psyche and will develope with very little change, until

Atticus Thraxx January 30, 2014 at 10:58 AM

I blame straight people. They’re the ones having all these gay babies.

Free Connie Dobbs

Hot talk January 30, 2014 at 11:45 AM

it is so great that the LGBT community can force there crap on all of us including our kids and we cant do anything to change it. They can start teaching gay history in our schools to start indoctrinating them into this sick lifestyle but if we say or do anything we have the problem. Simply sickening.

Always Right January 30, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Another infringement on liberties and parental rights.

Until there is proof of a gay gene ( no such thing has been found) anyone who says all gays are born that way is stating a belief, not a scientific fact.

So if some kids suffer early trauma or are somehow experience unwelcomed sexual feelings, shouldn’t they have the right to fix what they persevere to be the problem?

Are you liberals that closed-minded?

Are you liberals that unwilling to accept the diversity of human feelings because some don’t fit your belief system?


Don't Censor Me Bro January 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM

@ Jet #1 opined: “People are born gay, it is not something that can be changed – same as the color of our skin, etc…”


Did you check with Anne Heche and Cynthia Davis?

Thanx for playin’ tho

concerned January 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM

where is this country headed

@Serpentine January 30, 2014 at 12:00 PM

I have no doubt that at 8 years old sexual orientation is established. I had crushes on girls starting in Kindergarten. I would be interested in hearing others’ personal experiences about this.

@Don't Censor Me Bro January 30, 2014 at 12:07 PM

>> Did you check with Anne Heche …

You’re basing your argument on a documented nut case?

Anononononon January 30, 2014 at 12:20 PM

So how would you all feel if I as a gay man decided my straight daughter was just wrong and her to conversion therapy to make her gay.

This is hardly LBGT forcing crap on anyone in this case... January 30, 2014 at 12:48 PM

…it’s more stopping homophobes from forcing their life style on everyone else through cruel and unusual psychological treatment. You’re a serious sicko if you abuse your children by trying to change their biology via brain washing.

Always Right January 30, 2014 at 1:08 PM

As an open minded conservative, I grasp the complexity and diversity of human sexuality. There is no evidence of a “gay gene”, so at this point a rational person should conclude environmental and/or sociological factors play the leading role in variant forms of sexual orientation.

So why would we want to prevent people from altering their orientation if the feel it is a problem? Why is it we allow and even pay for people to have irreversible surgery to reject their physical, biological gender, but deny others the right to change their psychological orientation?

I think liberalism is a mental disorder.

Mister Wister January 30, 2014 at 1:15 PM

You’re too stupid to realize that you have no point.

Concord Mom January 30, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I totally agree with #1 JET – you’re totally right.

Society is coming around, and treatment of gays now is very similar to the way blacks were treated in the 50’s. Its not right, and someday, this world will be a better place. The ignorance is slowly disappearing and I’m so proud of our younger generation who seem to be much more understanding and less judgemental as the older ones.

Why so much hate from some of you people? How about mind your own damn business!

Futurama January 30, 2014 at 1:35 PM

OK, so the only reason hetero-sexual’s exist is to procreate and increase population. Homosexuality is a natural occurrence in the same vein, it curbs population growth. This isn’t hard, science is much easier to understand than a bigoted book built around hatred, xenophobia, violence and lunacy. You’re not special, neither are gay people. The natural order doesn’t conflict with your god unless your god isn’t actually a thing. You’re all a bunch of apes who have the same issues as all the other apes.

@always right January 30, 2014 at 1:35 PM

You must be single. I can’t imagine two people in the whole world that thinks like you.

@always right January 30, 2014 at 1:36 PM

I hope you did not produce offspring.

BCuzItzClaycord January 30, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Always Wrong – another ignorant bigoted comment from you. If anyone has a mental dissorder it is you. Perhaps you need more elctro-shock treatments so you become something that resembles a caring human.

Concord Mom – do yourself a favor…..don’t try to understand the narrow minded bigots of Claycord. Most are stuck on stupid and have no life…let them live in their little pure white bread bible thumping universe. Please be happy you are not like them as appear to be a kind and compassionate person

JWB January 30, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Don’t be so cruel to Always Wrong, he is a prime example why this law is important. We can all see what repressed sexual orientation does to him.

Think Spectrum January 30, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Sexuality is more like a spectrum. Total heterosexual on one side and total homosexuality on the other. In between, there are people who tend towards one way or another.

I am a long time married heterosexual with grown kids. I have many gay friends and relatives and know that they are who they are. As accepting as I am to their sexuality, I myself could never be with someone of the same sex. If someone told me that I could be gay, it wouldn’t happen. It’s my biology. No therapy could change me.

It’s the same way with gays. It’s their biology. Instead of hating on our children and forcing them to change so that WE are more comfortable, we should try to accept them for who they are.

Freedom of choice January 30, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Being gay is a choice not a way of life. Don’t encourage kids to choose a lifestyle. Let them choose for themselves!!

Justin January 30, 2014 at 2:59 PM

I think the mistake people like @Always Right are making is thinking sexuality is an either/or proposition.

It’s becoming clearer and clearer as people are allowed to openly discuss what they feel that sexual orientation is a continuing spectrum. No one is simply forced in to one or the other, they just are.

Just as growing up I never questioned or pondered that women were for me, the same goes for a gay man. He’s just attracted to other men. It was never a conscious choice.

Shutting down these crackpot “therapies” was an excellent move. They pray on peoples’ bigotries and extort money while damaging someone psyche – telling them the way they feel or are is somehow wrong. It isn’t.

Be who you are. Love who you want. And be proud of it.

KMC January 30, 2014 at 2:59 PM

EXACTLY ‘Think Spectrum’ #29!!!

Finally someone rational! I agree so much with what you said:
“It’s the same way with gays. It’s their biology. Instead of hating on our children and forcing them to change so that WE are more comfortable, we should try to accept them for who they are”

Nailed It January 30, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Think Spectrum absolutely nailed it. I agree 100% with everything you said.

BCuzItzClaycord January 30, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Think Spectrum & Justin……..BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Always Right January 30, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Personal insults and attacks seem to be the standard reaction from the left wingers on this thread. Where is the compassion? Where is the love?

Like I said earlier, until there is proof of a gay gene ( no such thing has been found) anyone who says all gays are born that way is stating a belief, not a scientific fact.

So if some teenage kids suffer early trauma or experience unwelcomed sexual feelings, why shouldn’t they have the right to fix what they perceive to be a problem? Why is it we allow and even use taxpayer money for people to have irreversible surgery to reject their physical, biological gender, but deny others the right to change their psychological orientation?

Progressives/liberals have no rational answers to these questions, so they tend to lash out with personal insults.

Posters 25 and 26, you will be saddened to hear that I have a large family with very successful children who are all well adjusted, hard-working members of the middle class.

BCuzItzClaycord and JWB – Love you guys. You are both so predictable.

Futurama – I will say a prayer for you. Somewhere along the line you must have had a bad experience with a Christian denomination or an individual. No other way to explain your level of animus toward Christianity.

ChampagneKitty January 30, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I agree, BcuzItzClaycord. Think Spectrum and Justin hit the nail on the head.

JWB January 30, 2014 at 4:45 PM

@Always Wrong

BTW my post was not meant to be an insult, I am wondering about your consistent homophoic postings here and I’m sure that there has to be a reason for it.

As the example of Idaho senator Larry Craig showed, in general it is people with repressed sexuality who show such traits. It’s the constant battle against temptation which makes them fight these inner demons.

Also let me know what is the gene which makes you a human? Since that seems to be needed for you to be considered a human.

Mark January 30, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Who really cares if someone is hetero or homo? Let’s talk about something important.

Always Right January 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM

@JWB – gads. Homophobic? Where do you get that?

Suffice it to say I am a Christian. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Homosexual intercourse (aka sodomy) is outside of God’s plan, according to Christian teaching. So is heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage (aka fornication). These practices are objectively sinful according to traditional Christian teaching.

Now that is what Christianity has always taught. Is that homophobic by your definition? Well it isn’t by my definition.

A phobia implies fear. No fear here, my friend. Only hope that the truth will set someone free, that light will replace the darkness.

Silva January 30, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Why are some people so interested in other people’s sex life? I never understood that. It sounds like a very good thing to ban, as a lot of people have been damaged by this “therapy”.

BCuzItzClaycord January 30, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Always Wrong – you are no Christian. And I just love people that brag about how successful, well adjusted blah blah blah their kids are. Really????? I bet they are as jacked up, homophobic and bigoted as you. That is not “well adjusted:” or Christian

BCuzItzClaycord January 30, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Oh – BTW Always Wrong, there must be “jerk” and “jackass” genes as you have both

Teacher Wannabe January 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Therapy is well and good, but forcing someone to be something other than who they are is wrong. Being gay is not something you can just turn “off” with therapy. It just does more damage.

Richardsfamily January 30, 2014 at 11:03 PM

Why someone would “choose” to be gay, particularly in some of these households, tells me there is a gay gene, we just haven’t found it yet. So, not really sure who should see a therapist, a gay kid or the clearly stupid parents. Additionally, the ONLY people parents should blame for their children being gay is THEMSELVES their genetics created this, so perhaps like I mentioned above it is the parent that need to send yourselves to the therapist, cause it their your fault take responsiblity.

Jess January 31, 2014 at 12:34 AM

If a gay adult chooses to go through this kind of “therapy”, well, I guess that’s their right. But the State is correct in stepping in to protect minors from that type of abuse.

Always Right, many Christian churches are accepting of homosexuality and don’t consider it a sin.

Always Right January 31, 2014 at 9:58 AM

@Jess, I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin either. However, Homosexual behavior is sinful, according to the Bible and 2000 years of Christian teaching and theology.

Silva January 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM

@Jess #46, So, how very true that is. If anyone is in need of a church who welcomes any and all Christians to worship, I know of at least one in Claycord. It has a motto; CVPC~ with open hearts and open minds.

Don't Censor Me Bro January 31, 2014 at 11:04 AM

@#18…funny Dr. Quack…small sampling. Point still valid…need more? – do your own research. Kind of like the minute sampling of so called ‘Gays,’ as compared to the BILLIONS of humans who are not ‘Gay.’

Led January 31, 2014 at 11:29 AM

I’m not a fan of these therapies in general, and I am definitely against the attitude that this is the proper general response to homosexuality. BUT, there are lots of therapies that aren’t proven effective. Newsflash: psychiatry and psychology are hard, and there are no magic bullets. There are well-established and accepted forms of treatment that don’t beat taking a cold shower every morning in terms of demonstrated effectiveness. So this looks like overreach to me.

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