NCLR and EQCA Respond to Temporary Delay of CA Law Protecting LGBT Minors from Dangerous Practices that Try to Change Their Sexual Orientation

December 21, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, December 21, 2012)–Today, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily delayed the start date of a new California law that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from therapists who try to change their sexual orientation despite warnings by medical experts that these discredited practices put youth at risk of serious harm.

The new law was set to take effect on January 1, 2013. Today’s decision temporarily postpones that date until the court rules on the underlying appeal of a decision earlier this month by Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Judge Mueller denied a request by an anti-LGBT organization to stop the law from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit has put the case on a fast track and will rule on that appeal early next year.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 29, 2012.

Judge Mueller earlier this month also granted a motion by EQCA to intervene in the lawsuit in order to defend the law alongside California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who represents the State of California defendants. Equality California is represented in the case by NCLR and the law firm of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.

“Every leading medical and mental health organization has warned therapists and parents that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression and suicide,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “No young person should be subjected to these dangerous practices, and no licensed therapist should be permitted to engage in practices that cause such serious harm. We are pleased that this case is on a fast track so that this lifesaving law can take effect as soon as possible.”

Added Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor: “Equality California is proud to have sponsored this important law, which will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer engage in these dangerous and unethical practices. California regulates medical providers to protect consumers from all kinds of harmful and fraudulent practices. The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1172 based on the warnings of the country’s leading medical organizations that these archaic practices have no medical or scientific basis and put youth at risk of serious harms. We want every LGBT youth in this state to know that the law values their lives and protects them from this dangerous abuse.”

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


NCLR Says Farewell to Senator Daniel Inouye—Champion for LGBT Rights

December 19, 2012
senator inouye

Senator Daniel Inouye

By NCLR Policy Counsel Ashland Johnson

Senator Daniel Inouye, one of the LGBT movement’s strongest congressional allies, passed away Monday after being admitted to the hospital for respiratory complications. At the time of his death, Sen. Inouye was the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, a nine-term Senator, a Medal of Honor Recipient, and the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.

Throughout his career, Sen. Inouye tirelessly advocated for LGBT people and their families. Since 1996, Sen. Inouye has been a passionate supporter of marriage equality. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and fiercely advocated for its repeal after it was enacted.

In addition to his unparalleled leadership on marriage equality, Sen. Inouye used his leadership to support LGBT equality in other key areas such as employment, immigration, military service, and school safety.  He was an early advocate of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” lending his support even before the efforts gained momentum.  He co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and the Uniting American Families Act. He also spoke out strongly against anti-LGBT violence and played a leadership role in passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Throughout his career, he never wavered from his commitment to standing up for the rights and dignity of all people—even when it was not popular or easy.  In a time when we must continue to fight for justice for LGBT Americans, Sen. Inouye’s leadership and unwavering support will be missed.

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


NCLR Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Decision To Take Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act Cases

December 7, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, December 7, 2012)—Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will hear the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 and one challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Proposition 8 is the 2008 measure that stripped marriage equality from same-sex couples in California, and was struck down in 2010 by former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who found that the measure discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The decision striking down Proposition 8 was upheld earlier this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

DOMA was enacted by Congress in 1996 and nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for purposes of federal law. DOMA states “the word ‘marriage’ means only the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” DOMA prevents same-sex married couples from receiving federal benefits that all other married couples receive, such as Social Security spousal benefits and health insurance for spouses of federal employees.

The challenges could be heard by the Court as early as March 2013, with a decision by the end of June 2013.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“Both the federal DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 serve only one purpose: to harm and stigmatize same-sex couples and their children. Without a doubt, Ted Olson, David Boies, and our colleagues at the ACLU will make the strongest possible case for equality before the Court. We are confident the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA once and for all next year, and, after four long years, will finally erase the stain of Proposition 8 and restore marriage equality to California couples. The day is now clearly in sight when the federal government, the State of California, and every state will recognize that same-sex couples and their children are entitled to the same respect and recognition as every other family.”

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera  | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Access to Emergency Contraception Matters for LGBT Youth

December 6, 2012

By Laura Nixon
NCLR Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow

Laura Nixon

Laura Nixon

This week, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) joins our allies in the reproductive justice movement urging Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to remove harmful restrictions on emergency contraception (EC).  The LGBT community – especially our young people – need access to emergency contraception without political roadblocks. Please lend your voice to this campaign!

In the United States, the sale of non-prescription emergency contraception (EC) to females under 17 years old is prohibited.  In order to purchase EC, a young woman must be 17 years old, and a young man must be 18 years old. In addition, anyone purchasing EC must have a government-issued ID, which creates a significant burden for many people, including those in the transgender community (as our colleagues at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health have rightly pointed out), people of color, low-income people, and undocumented people, all of whom are less likely to have government-issued identification.

Because EC is a very time-sensitive medication, these restrictions are a major roadblock for people trying to prevent an unintended pregnancy.  This interference with reproductive health, which is largely political, is more than a decade old, and it’s time for it to end.

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics took an important step forward on this important issue by recommending that EC be more widely available to young people.  In fact, the Academy recommended physicians write advance prescriptions for EC to their adolescent female patients, so that they could easily obtain EC if they need it in the future.

It is crucial for the LGBT community that EC be sold over the counter, without age restriction or ID requirements.  Access to EC is especially important for LGBT youth for reasons that Ruthann Robson, CUNY law professor, points out in this op-ed:

“[Q]ueer youth are especially vulnerable. They may have engaged in heterosexual sex for a variety of reasons, including coercion, intimidation, camouflage, sexual abuse, or survival/commercial sex. They may also be less likely to use birth control and several studies have documented that lesbian youth are two to ten times more likely to become pregnant than their heterosexual counterparts . . .”

Access to EC is an LGBT issue! Please join the reproductive justice movement in calling upon Secretary Sebelius  to revisit the evidence on the sale of emergency contraception and remove the harmful restrictions!

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Federal Court Gives Green Light to California Law Protecting Youth from Dangerous Practices by Therapists Who Claim to Change Sexual Orientation

December 4, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, December 4, 2012)—Today, Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a request by an anti-LGBT group to postpone the January 1, 2013 start of the state’s new law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from psychological abuse at the hands of state-licensed therapists who use dangerous practices to try to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression. The ruling means that the law will go into effect as scheduled.

The court also granted a motion by Equality California to intervene in the lawsuit in order to defend the law alongside California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who represents the State of California defendants. Equality California was the lead sponsor of the law and is the state’s leading political advocacy group representing LGBT people and their families.

The Court’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality that challenges the new law protecting LGBT youth from practices—including the use of shame and aversion therapy—that are known to lead to depression and suicide attempts. The group is represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT legal group. In rejecting the groups’ request to temporarily prevent the statute from going into effect on January 1, Judge Mueller concluded that the California law “prohibits a therapeutic practice deemed unproven and potentially harmful to minors by ten professional associations of mental health experts.”

Judge Mueller’s decision follows another decision yesterday by Judge William B. Shubb, also of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, in another case brought by a different set of plaintiffs who are also challenging the California law. Judge Shubb issued an order temporarily exempting three plaintiffs in that case from being subjected to enforcement of the law while the case proceeds in his court. Judge Shubb’s order applies only to the three plaintiffs in the case before him and does not prevent the state from enforcing the law against other licensed mental health professionals. Judge Mueller’s decision today clears the way for the law to go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 29, 2012.

Equality California is represented in the case by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the law firm of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP. Michelle Friedland and David Dinielli of Munger argued the motions on behalf of Equality California.

“This law will put a stop to one of the most dangerous and discredited forms of discrimination against LGBT youth,” said Equality California Executive Director John O’Connor. “We are extremely pleased that the court’s decision will allow the law to go into effect on January 1, 2013 as planned, and young people in this state will no longer have to fear that they can be subjected to these dangerous practices by licensed therapists. Every day that licensed therapists are permitted to engage in these dangerous and discredited practices is another day that our youth are placed at risk of depression, substance abuse, and attempted suicide. The state has a duty to protect minors from conduct by licensed health care professionals that is both harmful and offers no benefit to health. We commend Senator Ted Lieu, the bill’s author, the California Legislature, and Governor Brown for taking decisive action to protect California’s young people and their families.”

Said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.: “Today’s decision acknowledges that the anti-LGBT groups who have filed this case have no viable legal grounds for their attempt to block these desperately-needed protections for California youth. Every leading mental health organization has concluded that these practices, which claim to be able to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender expression, have no basis in science and expose young people to a serious risk of physical and emotional harm. We are confident the courts will continue to uphold this life-saving law, which simply requires licensed mental health practitioners to follow professional standards and to refrain from using practices that have no basis in science or medicine.”

Media Contacts:

NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org

EQCA Media Contact Shaun Osburn | Office: 415.581.005 | Shaun@EQCA.org


NCLR Responds to Federal Court’s Decision on California Law Protecting LGBT Youth from Dangerous Practices by Therapists Who Claim to Change Sexual Orientation

December 3, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, December 3, 2012)—Today, Judge William B. Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order temporarily exempting three plaintiffs from the enforcement of a new law preventing licensed therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender expression. The order applies only to the three plaintiffs and does not prevent the state from enforcing the law against other licensed mental health professionals. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2013.

The Court’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by two licensed therapists and another individual who intends to become a therapist, challenging the new law that protects LGBT youth from practices that are known to lead to depression and suicide.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including the California Psychological Association, the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on September 29, 2012.

Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.:

“We are disappointed by the ruling but very pleased that the temporary delay in implementing this important law applies only to the three plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit. The judge stressed that he was willing to issue the ruling in part because it is temporary and applies only to three individuals. We are confident that as the case progresses, it will be clear to the court that this law is fundamentally no different than many other laws that regulate health care professionals to protect patients. That is especially important in this case because the harms to minors are so serious, including suicide and severe depression. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has rejected these practices and warned that they are not only completely ineffective, but dangerous. California did the right thing by enacting this law, and we are confident the courts will find that it is not only constitutional, but vitally necessary. It is heartbreaking to think of the terrible damage that has been done to so many LGBT youth and their families, and of the lives that have been lost or destroyed because of these discredited practices.

We applaud Senator Ted Liu, the bill’s author, lead sponsor Equality California, the California Legislature, and Governor Brown for protecting these young people and their families. Governor Brown’s statement when he signed this bill is right on target: ‘This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.’ ”

Media Contacts:

NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers