California Moves Closer to Outlawing 'Reparative Therapy'

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com May 30 2012 5:02 PM ET

California moved one step closer today to outlawing any effort to change a minor's sexual orientation through therapy.

The state Senate approved a bill from Sen. Ted Lieu that would ban forms of so-called reparative therapy on anyone under the age of 18, according to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News. It still must be approved by the state Assembly and then by Gov. Jerry Brown, and if it is, then California would become the first state to crack down on therapy that the American Psychological Association has warned is damaging to patients.

The ban would be in effect regardless of whether a parent wanted to allow the therapy for their son or daughter.

The timing of SB1172's success coincidentally comes as the author of a widely cited study that had supported the efficacy of reparative therapy is now retracting his work, saying his methods were flawed.

Researcher Robert Spitzer's work has been cited by pastor James Dobson and a host of other social conservatives as the scientific foundation for their claims that a person can stop being gay. But Spitzer has said in a series of high-profile interviews — the latest coming as a video posted by LGBT rights organization Truth Wins Out — that the study relied too heavily on erroneous testimony provided to him by religious conservatives.

Reparative therapy has had a new prominence in headlines ever since Rep. Michele Bachmann ran for president and her husband's Christian counseling clinics were shown in a series of hidden-camera visits to be offering patients hope of ridding themselves of their homosexuality with biblically based therapy.