NCLR and EQCA Move to Intervene in Lawsuit to Defend Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse

October 20, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, October 20, 2012)—Late Friday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson filed court papers seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the new California law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. NCLR and Munger Tolles filed the motion on behalf of Equality California asking the federal district court in Sacramento to permit them to join California Attorney General Kamala Harris in defending Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits state-licensed therapists who claim to be able to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices that can lead to extreme depression and suicide. The bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2013, was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by NCLR, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the law on September 29, making California the first state in the country to prevent mental health professionals from trying to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender expression through practices that have been rejected by every mainstream mental health association as ineffective and dangerous. On October 4, two anti-LGBT groups, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Liberty Counsel, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law and asking the court to prevent the law from going into effect.

NCLR’s motion to intervene details Equality California’s critical role as a lead co-sponsor of the law, and requests court permission to intervene on behalf of EQCA and on behalf of its members, including LGBT people who have been subjected to these damaging practices and who testified before the legislature in support of Senate Bill 1172. EQCA’s members also include LGBT youth who potentially could be subjected to these abusive practices as well as the parents of LGBT youth. The motion demonstrates that EQCA would bring an essential perspective to the lawsuit that is not represented by the plaintiffs or the state officials who currently are parties.

“This lawsuit is a desperate attempt by extreme anti-LGBT groups to defend the indefensible—mental health professionals who subject young people to dangerous practices,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and deadly. The state has the right and obligation to protect young people from this psychological abuse, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide. We know this law will save lives, but our opponents know that if the law stands it will hurt their livelihood. They have made careers out of making young LGBT people feel ashamed, wrong, sick, and bad. They want to keep engaging in an array of deplorable practices to attempt to change the essence of who these kids are, and we won’t back down until they are stopped.”

Said Equality California Board President Clarissa Filgioun: “We are committed to defending this law on behalf of our members and the entire LGBT community. Our members have a stake in this law, and we are committed to ensuring that the protections set in place by the legislature and the governor are enacted, and given full force and effect. Our state lawmakers recognize that this law is necessary to protect young people from serious harm, and we are confident the law will be easily upheld.”

Media Contacts:

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

EQCA Media Shaun Osburn | Office: 415.581.0005 | Shaun@EQCA.org


NCLR and EQCA Say Anti-LGBT Groups Are “Grasping at Straws” with Lawsuits Challenging Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse

October 4, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, October 4, 2012)—Today, two anti-LGBT groups, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Liberty Counsel, filed a second federal challenge to the new law signed Saturday by California Governor Jerry Brown that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people in the state from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.

The law—which goes into effect on January 1, 2013—prohibits state-licensed therapists who claim to be able to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices known to lead to extreme depression and suicide. With Governor Brown’s signature, California became the first state in the country to prevent mental health professionals from subjecting youth to these dangerous practices, which have been rejected by every mainstream mental health association as ineffective and dangerous.

One of the plaintiffs in the case filed today is Joseph Nicolosi, a California-based advocate of psychological practices that attempt to change sexual orientation. Ryan Kendall, a victim of these abusive practices and former patient of Nicolosi’s, testified about his experiences during the Proposition 8 trial in 2010 and shared them again this summer with the California Assembly’s Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee: “As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide.”

“These extreme anti-LGBT groups are grasping at straws with these lawsuits,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and dangerous. The state has the right and obligation to protect young people from this abuse, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide. This law is no different from a thousand others that protect kids, from prohibiting underage smoking and drinking to requiring parents to use car seats. NCLR will commit all the energy and resources necessary to defend this vital and life-saving law.”

Added David Codell, Equality California Board Member and pro bono counsel: “The latest lawsuit seeking to prevent Senate Bill 1172 from going into effect is misguided and meritless, just like the similar lawsuit filed earlier this week. Senate Bill 1172 is groundbreaking in addressing the particular harms to minors posed by dangerous practices by licensed health care providers intended to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Despite the advances that Senate Bill 1172 represents, however, the new law fits squarely within a well-established set of laws designed to protect minors from harmful practices by licensed professionals. Equality California is committed to educating the public and the courts about the new law, its validity, and its benefits to California youth and families.”

Media Contacts:

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

EQCA Media Contact David Codell | Office: 310.273.0306 | David@Codell.com


NCLR and EQCA Say Anti-Gay Group’s Challenge to New Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse is Completely Groundless

October 2, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, October 2, 2012)—Late Monday, the Pacific Justice Institute filed a federal challenge to the new law signed Saturday by California Governor Jerry Brown that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people in the state from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. The law prohibits deceitful state-licensed therapists who falsely claim to be able to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices known to lead to extreme depression and suicide.

With Governor Brown’s signature, California became the first state in the country to prevent mental health professionals from subjecting youth to these dangerous practices, which have been rejected by every mainstream mental health association as ineffective and dangerous, and which place LGBT youth at high risk of depression and suicide.

Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.

“This lawsuit is a desperate, last ditch effort to defend the indefensible,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and dangerous. The state has a clear duty to protect minors from harm, and that is exactly what this law does. NCLR is committed to doing all we can to defend this law while, at the same time, we work to pass similar laws in other states. We will not rest until this “quackery,” as Governor Brown has called this practice, is illegal throughout our nation.”

Added David Codell, Equality California Board Member and pro bono counsel: “The lawsuit seeking to prevent Senate Bill 1172 from going into effect is meritless. Although Senate Bill 1172 is truly groundbreaking in addressing the particular harm to minors posed by dangerous practices designed to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender expression, the law fits squarely within a well-established set of laws designed to protect minors from harmful practices by licensed professionals.  Equality California is committed to educating the public and the courts about the new law, its validity, and its benefits to California youth and families.”

The law will go into effect January 1, 2013.

Media Contacts:

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

EQCA Media Contact David Codell | Office: 310.273.0306 | David@Codell.com


Latest on LGBT Cases at the Supreme Court—What to Expect and When

October 1, 2012

By Christopher Stoll, Esq.
NCLR Senior Staff Attorney

As was widely expected, the Supreme Court today declined to take any action on three important cases involving the rights of same-sex couples, including the challenge to California’ Proposition 8 and one of several challenges to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  (See my Huffington Post blog post for a preview of the Court’s LGBT cases this term.) At this point, we still do not have any information about whether the Court will take any of these cases, or whether it will let the lower court decisions stand.

Instead, the Court will decide later this fall whether to take these three cases, as well as three additional DOMA challenges on its fall docket.  Although the Court could announce whether it will take the Prop 8 case or any of the other cases on almost any Monday in the coming weeks, many believe that it will postpone all of these LGBT equality cases until the parties have finished filing their briefs in latest-filed of the DOMA cases, so that it can consider all of the cases at the same time.  If that prediction holds true, then based on the current schedule (which can change depending on when the parties choose to file their papers), the LGBT cases would not be considered until the Court’s November 20 conference at the earliest.

One other point to keep in mind is that the Court can reschedule cases multiple times.  So just because one of the cases that were originally on the September 24 conference agenda is rescheduled for say, the Friday, October 26 conference, that does not necessarily mean we will have an answer from the Court on Monday, October 29.  The Court could decide to postpone the case again.

For more information, see our FAQ.

Read Chris Stoll’s Huffington Post piece: LGBT Rights Take Center Stage at the Supreme Court.

Media Contacts:

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


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