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Appeals court to hear challenge to gay therapy ban

BY LISA LEFF, ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court is to hear arguments Wednesday on whether a first-of-its-kind law that prohibits licensed mental health professionals in California from offering therapies aimed at making gay and lesbian teenagers straight violates the civil rights of practitioners and parents.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering two legal challenges to the ban on "sexual orientation change efforts" that was passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

The ban, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, was put on hold by the 9th Circuit pending resolution of the closely watched cases. It spurred similar legislation still being considered by lawmakers in New Jersey,

The law states that therapists and counselors who treat minors with methods designed to eliminate or reduce their same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards. The activities of pastors and lay counselors who are unlicensed but provide such therapy through church programs would not be covered.

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