Same-sex marriage is still not legal in California, but the Golden State took a positive step for gay rights over the weekend when it became the first in the U.S. to ban a controversial form of therapy that seeks to change the sexual orientation of children and teens. By signing the legislation, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, said the state relegated ex-gay therapy “to the dustbin of quackery.”

In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown said: “This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide.” He added that the therapies “have no basis in science or medicine.”

San Francisco Chronicle:

The bill, SB1172 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), bars mental health practitioners from performing so-called reparative therapy, which professional psychological organizations have said may cause harm. Gay rights groups have labeled them dangerous and abusive.

…Under the new law, which will take effect Jan. 1, no mental health provider will be able to provide therapy that seeks “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

Mental health professionals who violate the law, which applies to therapy for patients younger than 18, will be subject to discipline by whatever group licenses them.

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The legislation comes just months after psychiatrist Robert Spitzer repudiated his own 2001 study in which he claimed that homosexuality could be cured.

“In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct,” Spitzer told The American Prospect in April. “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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