A non-profit legal organization “dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights” has filed a lawsuit to overturn a California law that prohibits therapies aimed at turning gay and lesbian teens into heterosexuals.
The Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute challenged the law -- SB 1172 -- signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The lawsuit was filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
“Of all the freedom-killing bills we have seen in our legislature the last several years, this is among the worst,” said Brad Dacus president of Pacific Justice Institute. “This outrageous bill makes no exceptions for young victims of sexual abuse who are plagued with unwanted same-sex attraction, nor does it respect the consciences of mental health professionals who work in a church. We are filing suit to defend families, children, and religious freedom. This unprecedented bill is outrageously unconstitutional.”
The law is considered a first-of-its-kind. According to The Associated Press, “the Institute filed the suit on behalf of a psychiatrist and a marriage and family therapist who is also a church pastor in San Diego. It also names as a plaintiff Aaron Bitzer, a Culver City man who says he has benefited from the ‘reparative’ therapy.”
The lawsuit claims the law, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, violates First Amendment and equal protection rights. The suit seeks an injunction to prevent implementation of the law.
Pacific Justice Institute has led the fight against SB 1172 since its introduction in the spring by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). The Institute claims its attorneys attended all of the bill’s policy committee hearings and warned legislators that the bill was “an unconstitutional restriction on the First Amendment, privacy, and parental rights.”
The text of the law, however, includes language that states, "Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years."