Antigay Group Sues to Halt California's 'Ex-Gay' Therapy Ban

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com October 02 2012 6:15 PM ET

The Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based Christian group that bills itself as a "nonprofit legal defense organization defending parental rights and religious freedom" on Monday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California's freshly minted ban on "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy for minors.

Last weekend California governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits state-licensed therapists from using the scientifically discredited "therapy" on youth under 18 years old. The legislation is the first of its kind in the United States.

"Of all the freedom-killing bills we have seen in our legislature the last several years, this is among the worst," said Pacific Justice president Brad Dacus on the organization's website. The institute's suit asks the court for an injunction to prevent the law's scheduled implementation January 1.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which along with Equality California and several other LGBT-rights organizations lobbied in favor of the law, said the institute's suit is completely groundless.

"This lawsuit is a desperate, last ditch effort to defend the indefensible," said Kate Kendell, NCLR executive director. "The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and dangerous. The state has a clear duty to protect minors from harm, and that is exactly what this law does. NCLR is committed to doing all we can to defend this law while, at the same time, we work to pass similar laws in other states. We will not rest until this 'quackery,' as Governor Brown has called this practice, is illegal throughout our nation."

The lawsuit is not entirely unexpected, as on Monday, CNN's Brooke Baldwin nearly got into a shouting match with "ex-gay" activist David Pickup, who works for the notoriously antigay National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. Pickup repeatedly tried to shout down Baldwin, told her she was misquoting scientific information, and confessed that while he claims he successfully underwent reparative therapy, he never identified as gay in the first place.

Pickup also trotted out the myth that same-sex attraction is a result of childhood sexual trauma, citing his experience with sexual assault as a child. While Baldwin expressed sympathy for Pickup's abuse, Pickup used the opportunity to allege that the California legislation will prevent children who have been sexually abused from seeking treatment.

Of course, California's new law makes no such prohibition, but rather forbids licensed therapists from engaging in a "therapy" that the American Psychological Association has called harmful and likely to increase depression and suicide in LGBT youth. Notably, the legislation does not apply to unlicensed counselors, life coaches, or religious therapists, who are still free to subject their clients to the damaging, shame-based "treatment."

Watch the CNN video below.