The Supreme Court rejected a request by a Christian minister and therapist to consider a case against a ban on the so-called gay conversion therapy in the state of California.
The dismissal that came on Monday is the second one that the high court has given in three years.
California adopted a law in 2012 prohibiting licensed therapists from offering sessions that are intended to change the sexual orientation of clients under the age of 18. The law was challenged initially on the basis that it violated rights to free speech, but that argument was rejected by a federal appeals court.
When the law was reviewed by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges ruled 3-0 that it was constitutional.
The court said that minors are free to seek such therapy once they turn 18, and that the law “regulates conduct only within the confines of the counselor-client relationship.” Clergy still have freedom of speech and to practice their religion in church, the ruling states.
Donald Welch, a Christian minister and licensed therapist, sought to challenge the law at the Supreme Court this time on the basis that it violated rights to free exercise of religion, which the Supreme Court has declined to hear. Other plaintiffs who joined Welch included a psychiatrist and a man who had undergone gay conversion therapy.
“We are deeply disappointed by today’s announcement, because it means young people in California and elsewhere will not be able to get the professional help they seek, due to political correctness,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, the legal group which represented the plaintiffs.
“This debate will continue, though, as other states consider similar bans on counselors’ speech, and new court challenges will be filed against such bans,” Dacus continued. “Ultimately, we believe the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning will not stand the test of time, and we are committed to this battle for the long haul.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, similar laws banning gay conversion therapy exist in the District of Columbia, Illinois, Oregon, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Vermont.