California outlaws gay conversion therapy

Rally against gay therapy 
By: Debbie Gross 

California became the first state in the United States to outlaw trying to turn a gay person back straight, according to reports.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a law making California the first state to ban a controversial form of psychotherapy that is designed to make gay teens straight again.

Mental health professionals are prohibited from efforts to target sexual orientation, known as reparative or conversion therapy, for anyone under 18 years old. “These therapies have no basis in science or medicine and will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery," the governor said in a statement.

Associations representing mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists have dismissed reparative therapy in the past decades. Several mental health associations in California, including the state Board of Behavioral Sciences, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the California Psychological Association supported the legislation.

However, some organizations and ministries continue to use counseling and prayer to try to help Christians escape conflict of unwanted homosexual inclinations. Advocates of gay rights have said the damage done to people can be deep and lasting, and can put young people at greater risk of depression and suicide.

"We are grateful to Governor Brown for standing with the children of California," Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. "LGBT youth are now protected in a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been shown to have dramatically negative effects on their welfare."

The group urged other states to follow California's lead on the issue.