Supreme Court Turns Away Challenge to Conversion Therapy Ban

May 01, 2017

Supreme Court Turns Away Challenge to Conversion Therapy Ban

The Supreme Court today left standing a lower court decision that the conversion therapy ban in California is legal.  By declining to consider that case, the Court allowed the state ban to stay on the books, and by extension, the bans in five other states as well.  The lead plaintiff, an ordained minister and licensed family therapist in San Diego, sued the State of California on the grounds that the state law violates his freedom of religion and therefore is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court chose not to review that case.  The plaintiff was joined a psychiatrist and a man who underwent conversion therapy and now aspires to perform it on others.  The plaintiff had previously sued California on the grounds that its conversion therapy ban violated his freedom of speech, and that challenge also failed.

By upholding California’s ban, the Supreme Court protected the bans in Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Jersey, and New Mexico from the same type of challenge.  A dozen other states have been considering bans this year in their state legislatures.

The process of enacting a ban in every state would be drawn-out and in some states, a long shot at best.  Members of Congress have just introduced bills in the House and Senate that would make it illegal to accept payment for conversion therapy or to advertise that service, on the grounds that it is a fraudulent business practice.  Because sexual orientation is not a medical condition or problem, offering to cure it through therapy is not a legitimate service; it’s accepting payment to cure a nonexistent problem.  The bills would give the Federal Trade Commission oversight over this prohibition.

For more information on the bills in Congress and how you can contact your representatives about them, click here to read a previous blog post about this topic.


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