The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the California law that forbids children under 18 from receiving professional counseling to counter same-sex attractions. The decision lets stand a January ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the ban, which will go into effect as soon as the circuit court gives the order.
“As of today, these minors no longer have access to the counseling they’ve stated has saved their lives,” said Daniel Schmid, a lawyer at Liberty Counsel, the group representing plaintiffs in Pickup v. Brown, one of two cases challenging the ban. The Supreme Court’s decision ends that appeal and a companion case, Welch v. Brown.
California and New Jersey have both outlawed professional “sexual orientation change efforts” for minors. In California, licensed counselors will no longer be able to offer therapy to minors who experience unwanted same-sex attractions. The prohibition does not apply to pastors.
Opponents of the law—including the American College of Pediatricians, the American Association of Christian Counselors, and the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality—had said sexual orientation change therapy is effective for many individuals. The effort to ban the therapy, they said, was based on “pseudo-science” and subjective reports from patients who claimed they had been harmed by such counseling.
Schmid was disappointed the Supreme Court will not hear his organization’s case, but said the challenge to gay therapy bans isn’t over: Liberty Counsel is representing plaintiffs in a challenge to New Jersey’s law, and will present oral arguments before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 9.
If the 3rd Circuit strikes down New Jersey’s law, it will create a legal conflict within the appellate court, increasing the likelihood the Supreme Court will ultimately weigh in. That case is King v. Christie.