SCOTUS Rejects Challenge to New Jersey’s Anti-Conversion Therapy Law for Third Time

by Xavier Persad

The Supreme Court of the United States rejected for the third time a challenge to New Jersey’s 2013 law that protects LGBTQ youth from so-called “conversion therapy.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected for the third time a challenge to New Jersey’s 2013 law that protects LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” New Jersey was the second state in the nation to prohibit state-licensed health professionals from engaging in these harmful practices with minors.

The challenge was brought by the anti-LGBTQ group Liberty Counsel, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Court’s action leaves in place the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ 2014 decision to uphold the law’s constitutionality, ensuring that New Jersey’s law remains in effect.

On two other occasions -- in February 2016 and May 2015 -- the Supreme Court rejected other constitutional challenges to the same New Jersey law, which was the first anti-conversion therapy law enacted under a Republican governor.

Today, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this harmful practice. Seven of these state laws were enacted under Republican governors. Most recently, Colorado’s legislature passed protections against conversion therapy that await enactment. Additionally, a growing number of municipalities have enacted similar protections, including at least fifty cities and counties in Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” is a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices are rooted in the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be “cured” -- a theory that has been resoundingly rejected by every major medical and mental health organization. Research by groups including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people, leading to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness and even suicidal behavior.

More information on the false claims and dangers of efforts to change gender identity or sexual orientation can be found here.