California Gay-Therapy Ban Left Intact By U.S. High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court let California ban therapists from working with children to change their sexual orientation, as the justices turned away contentions that the measure violates the First Amendment.

Rejecting two appeals, the high court today left intact a federal appeals court ruling upholding California’s 2012 law banning sexual-orientation conversion therapy. The measure, the first of its kind in the nation, had been on hold during the court fight and can now take effect.

Counselors and patients argued in the appeals that the law will censor their discussions and interfere with parental rights. New Jersey has a similar law, which is also being challenged in court.

The California law applies to licensed doctors, psychologists, family therapists and social workers. Violators are subject to discipline by state licensing bodies.

The measure doesn’t bar unlicensed providers, such as religious leaders, from administering the therapy. Licensed providers can refer minors to religious leaders.

In upholding the law, a San Francisco-based federal appeals court said it regulates conduct, not speech. The three-judge panel said licensed professionals can discuss the pros and cons of conversion therapy, as long as they don’t actually provide treatment to someone under age 18.

The cases are Pickup v. Brown, 13-949, and Welch v. Brown, 13-1281.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Oster at poster@bloomberg.net Mark McQuillan, Laurie Asseo

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