Senate sends to governor first-in-nation crackdown on bogus ‘ex-gay cures’ for minors

August 30, 2012
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Bill supported by broad cross section of medical community

SACRAMENTO – Less than three months after one of the nation’s leading doctors on ex-gay ‘cures’ recanted his often-cited study, California’s Legislature on a 23-13 vote sent Gov. Brown a milestone bill to end the now-discredited attempts to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

“Few things are more offensive than child abuse and, frankly, that’s what these types of psychological treatments are,” said Sen. Ted W. Lieu of Torrance, author of Senate Bill 1172, which he introduced in February. “These attempts are quackery, and this kind of psychological abuse of children must stop.”

Brown has not taken a position on SB 1172, and he has until Sept. 30 to sign, veto or allow its protections to take effect without his signature on Jan. 1, 2013. If enacted, the measure would be the first in the nation.

Lieu introduced the patient-protection plan to help raise public awareness of bogus and unethical practices by mental-health providers who claim they can help change a person’s sexual orientation. He labeled such efforts as non-scientific and dangerous because in some cases patients later committed suicide or suffered severe mental and physical anguish. Those facts became part of the public record during lengthy testimony presented during policy-committee reviews on SB 1172.

As written, SB 1172 would prohibit children under 18 from undergoing sexual orientation-change efforts.
Citing nearly 40 years of research by mental health experts, SB 1172 is based on the following:
•        An individual’s sexual orientation, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.
•        Sexual orientation change efforts pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, including confusion, depression, guilt, hopelessness, shame, suicide, self-hatred, decreased self-esteem and a host of anger, dysfunction and dehumanized feelings.
• There is insufficient evidence that any type of psychotherapy can change a person’s sexual orientation.  Instead, abusive attempts to change sexual orientation in some cases has caused serious and lasting harm.

“If anyone had any doubts such practices were evil, they need only read how the person who brought any legitimacy to this kind of psychological technique, Dr. Robert Spitzer, renounced his study and apologized to the LGBT community,” Lieu said. 

Formal supporters include: All Out (www.allout.org); American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, California Division; American Psychoanalytic Association; APAIT Health Center; Asian Law Caucus; Asians and Pacific Islanders Equality-Los Angeles; Board of Behavioral Sciences; California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, East Bay Chapter; California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, San Francisco Chapter; California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Los Angeles Chapter; California Communities United Institute; California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies; California National Organization for Women; CenterLink; The Community of LGBT Centers; City of Los Angeles; City of West Hollywood; Coil Foundation; Congress of California Seniors; DignityUSA; L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center; L.A. Stonewall Young Democrats; Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Southern California; Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club; National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter; Rockway Institute – Center at CA School of Professional Psychology; Alliant International University; The Trevor Project; West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic Club; Women’s Therapy Center; a number of individual mental health practitioners; and a number of individual school board members.

Groups that initially had concerns about SB 1172 but have since removed their opposition include: California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors; California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists; California Psychological Association, (which now is in support); and the California Psychiatric Association.

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 1172 and links to various studies, including Spitzer’s, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.
Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Labor Committee and represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu