Effort under way to repeal California law calling homosexuality 'deviant behavior'

Posted on 09 Apr 2010 at 11:23am

OK, I think a lot of people were surprised when Californians voted in 2008 to amend their state Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. I mean, hey, California is the most liberal state in the U.S., right? They love gay people in California, right? They won’t vote against, right?

But they did. And a lot of us were surprised. But we shouldn’t have been, because “liberal” California still has a 1950 law on the books classifying homosexuality as “deviant behavior” and requiring the Department of Mental Health to conduct research on “deviations conducive to sex crimes against children.”

According to a report on CBSNews.com, the law was enacted in 1950 in response to public outcry over a series of sex crimes in Los Angeles that include the rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl. The man who confessed to the crime was not gay, but hey, why should fact or reason get in the way of demonizing gays to get the angry public off your back? I mean, surely, it was the deviant gays who somehow caused that child’s death, right?

But back to the present: Some lawmakers are trying to get the law overturned. Finally. 60 years later.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, a Long Beach Democrat, sponsored the bill to repeal the 1950 law. She said it would be wrong to leave the law on the books and that “there [is] no legal justification to say that gay people needed to be understood and cured in the exact same way as sexual predators.”

Of course, the right-wingers are fighting the repeal effort. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), sent Lowenthal a letter saying that research into the causes of homosexuality is legitimate. In a telephone interview with CBS, PFOX’s California educational director, Jeralee Smith, said: “Being able to research the cure for those types of emotions is the way we have hope.”

There was a vote on Tuesday, April 6, in the Assembly on repealing the law, and it was unanimous in favor of repeal. Except for one Democrat and two Republicans who abstained. They claimed they abstained because instead of repealing the law outright, they want to take out the language about homosexuality and keep in place the parts that mandate research into the causes of criminal sexual deviancy.

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