At first sight, the aim of the Californian bill SB172 seemed fairly laudable: if a minor displays a tendency towards homosexuality, it should not be subjected to religious rituals to exorcise them.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but an interim block on the ban, in order to have time to consider fully the issues involved in the case.
Liberty Council, a religious freedom action group, argued a rather confusing case: a medical treatment that parents want to use on their children must be allowed under the first amendment, and, in any case, parental rights trump all overs in matters concerning their children.
It would seem that some time would be need to untangle such a complex mess of an argument.
The ensuing delay has the conservative Christians saying the the injunction is "a tremendous interim victory for true freedom of choice, self-determination and the mental and spiritual health of countless children who struggle with sexual confusion."
Except, one might note, it is not the choice of the child that is at issue, just that of the parents.
The scenario the act wanted to deal with is when an adolescent admits to having no real desire to be a heterosexual, and against that child's will, the parent can invoke "medical practitioners" to invoke a regimen of prayer, hymns and sermons and other techniques to cure the child of its sinful nature.
It is not the case, here, that homosexuality is a sin. It is not the case that the method has anything other than limited self reported success. It is not that the child wishes to become heterosexual. It is simply that a parent can make every decision over a child's existence, regardless of how sound or logical the decision is.
At both Federal and State levels, the interests of the child may be put first: you are not allowed to force your child to do anything illegal is an obvious example, but most jurisdictions will step in if a parent declines life saving medical treatment for a child on religious grounds. The parent has an absolute to refuse medical treatment for themselves, but not for allowing that personal belief to harm others.
Those who promote Gay Reversion Therapy have three arguments. The first is that the Therapy is a true, honest-to-goodness medical treatment to cure a psychological disorder. The American Psychiatrist Society counter by avowing that homosexuality is not a pathological condition, and the American Counselling Association add their bit by writing to the Attorney General to advise him that "sexuality is immutable".
Faced with such logic, the promoters fall back on their second line. "Homosexuality is a sin, and we use religion to cure it". A religion that uses nausea inducing drugs and electrical shocks to the genitals as aversion therapy, in order to further their God's will, seem to be taking rather extreme steps, one might think. For religion to use aversion therapy as a means of spiritual enlightenment is only valid to the most right wing members of the fundamentalist cause.
Well, even if it is not a medical treatment nor a religious ritual, the Start cannot interfere because of parental rights, which soon will be a Constitutional amendment if House Republicans can convince the Democrats in the Senate of their case. So - this leg of the argument is the weakest, but it helps confuse the issue.
But does it really matter if kids undergo enforced therapy to "make them better citizens" against their will?
Ask our good friends at It Gets Better. 11 teens a day commit suicide in the USA. And some of them because of the guilt they feel because they know that they will never be heterosexuals.
If it is realistically possible that Gay Revision Therapy is adding to the numbers who take their own lives, I would have thought the imperative would be to allow any ban to take immediate effect while the issues were debated, rather than staying the ban.. A delay cannot be significantly harmful if the treatment is sound, but not having a delay may be catastrophic if the treatment is as harmful as the medical profession believes.
In the meantime, we could all join the It Gets Better project in order to let our young Gays know that they need not be so racked with guilt for having sexuality that those of the Abrahamic religions disapprove of.