EQCA
Equality California
EQCA and NCLR Move to Intervene in Lawsuit to Defend Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2012


CONTACT: Shaun Osburn, Equality California
PHONE: 415-286-4036 EMAIL: shaun@eqca.org

CONTACT: Erik Olvera, National Center for Lesbian Rights
PHONE: 415-994-3242 EMAIL: eolvera@nclrights.org

EQCA and NCLR Move to Intervene in Lawsuit to Defend Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse

(San Francisco, CA, October 20, 2012)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson filed court papers seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the new California law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. NCLR and Munger Tolles filed the motion on behalf of Equality California asking the federal district court in Sacramento to permit them to join California Attorney General Kamala Harris in defending Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits state-licensed therapists who claim to be able to change their clients' sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices that can lead to extreme depression and suicide. The bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2013, was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by NCLR, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the law on September 29, making California the first state in the country to prevent mental health professionals from trying to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender expression through practices that have been rejected by every mainstream mental health association as ineffective and dangerous. On October 4, two anti-LGBT groups, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Liberty Counsel, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law and asking the court to prevent the law from going into effect.

NCLR’s motion to intervene details Equality California’s critical role as a lead co-sponsor of the law, and requests court permission to intervene on behalf of EQCA and on behalf of its members, including LGBT people who have been subjected to these damaging practices and who testified before the legislature in support of Senate Bill 1172. EQCA’s members also include LGBT youth who potentially could be subjected to these abusive practices as well as the parents of LGBT youth. The motion demonstrates that EQCA would bring an essential perspective to the lawsuit that is not represented by the plaintiffs or the state officials who currently are parties.

"This lawsuit is a desperate attempt by extreme anti-LGBT groups to defend the indefensible—mental health professionals who subject young people to dangerous practices," said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. "The plain fact is that every mainstream medical and mental health association in the country has warned that these practices are ineffective and deadly. The state has the right and obligation to protect young people from this psychological abuse, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide. We know this law will save lives, but our opponents know that if the law stands it will hurt their livelihood. They have made careers out of making young LGBT people feel ashamed, wrong, sick, and bad. They want to keep engaging in an array of deplorable practices to attempt to change the essence of who these kids are, and we won’t back down until they are stopped."

Said Equality California Board President Clarissa Filgioun: "We are committed to defending this law on behalf of our members and the entire LGBT community. Our members have a stake in this law, and we are committed to ensuring that the protections set in place by the legislature and the governor are enacted, and given full force and effect. Our state lawmakers recognize that this law is necessary to protect young people from serious harm, and we are confident the law will be easily upheld."

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 90 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org 

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR has had a Youth Project since 1993 that provides legal support to LGBT youth who have been damaged by psychological abuse and mistreatment at the hands of abusive mental health practitioners. www.nclrights.org

Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP is a full-service law firm known for trying bet-the-company cases and negotiating deals that shape our corporate landscape. Munger Tolles’ 175 lawyers represent clients in a broad range of complex and high-profile matters in the areas of corporate, litigation, real estate and bankruptcy. Contributing to the community through pro bono work and other forms of volunteerism is a core tenet of our firm's culture. www.mto.com

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