So-called conversion therapy to change a patient's sexual orientation is a practice frowned on by mainstream psychiatry and deeply offensive to gays and lesbians, who rightly see it as a relic of a time when homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness. Its most vociferous defenders are religious conservatives. We think it's a terrible idea. Nevertheless, we opposed state legislation outlawing the use of conversion therapy designed to change the sexual orientation of minors. It doesn't make sense for legislators to ban specific procedures performed by licensed professionals in the absence of persuasive scientific evidence that they caused harm to patients. The Legislature passed the ban on "sexual orientation change efforts" this summer, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law. Now two federal judges in Sacramento, ruling in two separate challenges to the law, have rendered conflicting decisions about whether it should take effect. The question at this point isn't whether the law was a wise use of the state's power to regulate the practice of psychology but whether it is likely to violate the Constitution.
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