Reparative therapy defenders remain active

Baptist Press
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Posted: Sep 04, 2013 4:52 PM
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Religious freedom advocate Liberty Counsel is at the forefront of groups continuing to fight for the right of teenage patients to receive reparative therapy to treat homosexuality, countering legislation in New Jersey and California banning the treatment.

Liberty Counsel has filed suit against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others to reverse the state's law prohibiting reparative therapy for minors and will seek another redress of a similar law in California, according to Liberty Counsel news releases.

In New Jersey, where lawmakers passed a law in August immediately prohibiting licensed therapists from offering reparative therapy to patients younger than 18, Liberty Counsel has filed an injunctive suit on behalf of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, the American Association of Christian Counselors and Drs. Tara King and Ronald Newman and their patients. They are calling for the law's reversal as unconstitutional.

The New Jersey law "denies or severely impairs Plaintiffs' clients and all minors their right to self-determination, their right to prioritize their religious and moral values, and their right to receive effective counseling consistent with those values," the Liberty Counsel suit charges.

The law also "infringes on the fundamental rights of Plaintiffs' clients and the rights of the parents of Plaintiffs' clients to direct the upbringing and education of their children, which includes the right to meet each child's individual counseling, developmental and spiritual needs," the suit states.

Regarding California, Liberty Counsel said it will either ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling upholding the ban on reparative therapy or will seek to get a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeals court in August upheld that state's ban on reparative therapy for minors, nine months after Liberty Counsel had obtained an injunction blocking the implementation of the law.

"California has authority," the appeals court ruled, "to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies that the legislature has deemed harmful."

Liberty Counsel maintains that many patients have been helped by reparative therapy, and that the 2009 findings of the American Psychological Association have been misapplied by those who want to block such therapy.

"That Task Force Report specifically states that there is evidence of benefit of such counseling," Liberty Counsel has said, "and any such reports to the contrary were only anecdotal. The Report also states that there is no research -- none -- regarding the effects of change therapy involving minors."

Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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