May 1, 2017 at 10:00 pm PDT | by Chris Johnson
Supreme Court rejects challenge to California ‘ex-gay’ therapy ban

U.S. Supreme Court (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

For the second time, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a lawsuit challenging the California law barring widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for minors.

The court announced in an order list on Monday it had refused to hear the litigation seeking to overturn the law signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012. The law has been the subject of lawsuits on the basis it violates freedom of speech and religion, but has been upheld as constitutional.

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said in a statement the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear case of Welch v. Brown is “good news for thousands of LGBT youth nationwide,” especially those in states without conversion therapy bans.

“Homosexuality is not a condition that needs curing.” Zbur said. “However, we do know that the practice of trying to change sexual orientation not only doesn’t work, but puts vulnerable LGBT young people at risk of depression, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide. It flies in the face of a consensus of respected health organizations – including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other groups – that efforts to change a young person’s sexual orientation are harmful.”

The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear means a decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the “ex-gay” therapy ban will remain standing.

The refusal marks the second time the Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to the California ban and the fourth time in total it has declined to hear a challenge to a ban on “ex-gay” therapy. Justices have also twice refused to review decisions from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law barring the practice signed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who as a state legislator in California Assembly drafted the wording of the law, commended the Supreme Court in a statement for letting the measure stand.

“The Supreme Court has rightly rejected the challenge to the constitutionality of California’s gay conversion therapy ban,” Lieu said. “Five years ago when I authored California’s law, we knew that the Constitution does not prevent government from banning an evil and fake therapy. The time is now for a federal ban of the fraudulent and harmful practice of conversion therapy. Progress will not be stopped.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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