In December, the Ninth Circuit granted conservative groups an injunction against a new California law banning harmful ex-gay therapy from being offered to minors, preventing it from taking effect January 1. The temporary delay allows the Court time to hear the case and address the conflicting rulings offered by lower courts in two different suits challenging the law. In the meantime, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has appealed the injunction, calling on the Court to focus on the decision upholding the ban issued by U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller.
The Liberty Counsel, which is leading one of the lawsuits along with the ex-gay organization NARTH, boasted the injunction when it was granted last month, doubling down on some of the most absurd and offensive claims used to justify ex-gay therapy. In particular, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver reiterated claims that sexual abuse is somehow responsible for young people’s same-sex orientations:
STAVER: The minors we represent have not and do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior. They are greatly benefiting from counseling. These minors have struggled with same-sex attraction and have been able to reduce or eliminate the stress and conflict in their lives by receiving counseling that best aligns with their religious and moral values.
Without this emergency injunction, the State of California would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.
Staver neglects to explain that the “stress and conflict” these young people experience is only the result of the family rejection that the Liberty Counsel and ex-gay advocates foment. Studies that have attempted to show correlations between sexual abuse and homosexuality have been largely inconclusive, and certainly plenty of gay people have never experienced abuse. Such claims only seek to stigmatize by implying that people with same-sex orientations are disordered and may themselves have a propensity for abuse themselves, which is completely unfounded.
In the state’s appeal of the injunction, California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) cited mainstream medical opinion, condemning ex-gay therapy as “unsound and harmful.”