First Amendment

Student Who Says Gay Cure Worked for Him Sues over Calif. Law Banning Conversion Therapy

Updated: A college student who says he overcame same-sex attractions as a result of therapy is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a California law that bans such treatment for minors.

The student, Aaron Blitzer, says he is studying to become a therapist in the field, and the law would prevent him from pursuing the profession, ABC News reports. The Pacific Justice Institute filed the federal suit on behalf of Blitzer and two therapists claiming violations of the rights to free speech, religion and privacy.

The law subjects therapists who use conversion therapy on youths under age 18 to disciplinary action by state licensing agencies, NBC Bay Area reports.

State Sen. Ted Lieu sponsored the measure. He criticized the lawsuit in a statement. “I read the lawsuit and, as a matter of fiction, it is a good read,” Lieu said. “Under the plaintiffs’ argument, the First Amendment would shield therapists and psychiatrists from medical malpractice and psychological abuse claims simply because they use speech in practicing their medicine. That is a novel and frivolous view of the First Amendment.”

On Thursday, another group, Liberty Counsel, announced a separate suit (PDF) challenging the law in a press release. The group’s chairman, Mat Staver, called the law “an astounding violation of the right to free speech and religious liberty.”

Updated at 1 p.m. to include information on the Liberty Counsel lawsuit.

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