Staff Reports Second Federal lawsuit Filed Against California Ban On Reparative Therapy For Minors As New Jersey Lawmaker Mulls Introduction Of Similar Law
SACRAMENTO, CA -- A second federal lawsuit was filed last Thursday in Sacramento, seeking to reverse California's new law banning practice of a form of psychotherapy referred to as "reparative therapy," which claims to "relieve" gay or lesbian adolescents from feelings of "unwanted same-sex attractions.
Filed by the Orlando, Florida based anti-gay Liberty Counsel, a self labeled Christian legal group, the suit names two southern California boys, ages 14 and 15, as plaintiffs who have been undergoing the "reparative therapy" under the care of Encino, Caifornia based psychologist Joseph Nicolosi. Nicolosi, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, founder and director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, in Encino, and the president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
In court documents filed, Liberty Counsel claims the ban, which is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2013, violates the teens' freedom of speech and freedom of religion by denying them the chance to be cured of "unwanted same-sex attraction."
Also named as plaintiffs are the boys' parents, Nicolosi, two other Southern California therapists, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and the American Association of Christian Counselors.
As news of the lawsuit was spread, across the country in New Jersey, openly gay New Jersey Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace (D., Bergen), announced his plans to introduce a bill next week that would outlaw use of the technique on those under 18 years old in New Jersey in a similar measure patterned after the California Law.
In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Eustace said;
"I see it as a form of child abuse," he said. Being gay "is not an illness, so what are they fixing?" "Conversion" or "reparative" therapy has been discredited by all major mental health organizations, according to the American Psychological Association. Since parents may force their children to undergo the therapy, the state should protect them," he said.
The Inquirer noted that the measure will face stiff resistance from the New Jersey Family Policy Council, a group that opposes gay marriage. Government should not interfere with parental decisions, said the group's founder and president, Len Deo.
"The American Psychological Association has been very 'progressive' in their viewpoints. I would say there are thousands who have have utilized this therapy that have left the gay lifestyle," he said.
"Assemblyman Eustace now becomes the parental authority for all . . . kids? Give me a break," he added. "A kid can't get a tattoo in New Jersey without a parent's consent. To take the flip side on this and take away the right of the parents on this issue is ludicrous."
California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown last weekend signed that state's measure outlawing reparative therapy for those under 18, calling it "quackery." A spokesperson for New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, Michael Drewniak declined to comment Monday on whether the New Jersey governor would be likely to sign a similar measure.
The American Psychiatric Association states in their official policy on the matter:
"The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone 'reparative therapy' relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction.
The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian are not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed. APA recognizes that in the course of ongoing psychiatric treatment, there may be appropriate clinical indications for attempting to change sexual behaviors."
The American Psychological Association aligns with this in a Resolution: it "urges all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientation" [...] and "Therefore be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, and mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based in ignorance or unfounded beliefs about sexual orientation."