Lending its support to a planned lawsuit by the Liberty Counsel, a lobbying group for antigay psychoanalysts today rejected California’s authority to ban medical malpractice when such abuse is rationalized by religious extremists.

NARTH was responding to Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing on Saturday of a new law that prohibits mental-health professionals (but not amateur religious counselors) from conducting discredited sexual-orientation-change experiments upon minors. NARTH contends that its legacy of malpractice and psychologically injured patients is justified by “freedom of choice” and “parental rights.”

On CNN this afternoon, NARTH spokesman David Pickup lied to viewers, claiming that conversion therapy cures depression. A separate story on CNN noted proof from the American Psychiatric Association that conversion therapy worsens depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior.

NARTH falsely teaches that sexual orientation does not exist — Pickup refers instead to “homosexual issues” which he says result from distant or insufficiently tough fathering and overbearing mothering. NARTH’s therapists charge anywhere from $75 to $100 per hour to coach youths to blame parents for their sexuality, and to coach parents to bully their teenage children into conforming to harsh gender stereotypes: Men are required to play football, not tennis or music; women must wear lipstick and dresses and behave deferentially to please their male peers.

NARTH’s founder, Joseph Nicolosi, stands accused this year of encouraging antigay therapists and pastors to use homosexual pornography to treat young men.

NARTH has refused to survey its past patients to ascertain how badly harmed they were, or whether their therapy strengthened rather than weakened homosexual attraction, as some survivors of the therapy contend. An independent 2002 study by Drs. Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder (and edited by Jack Drescher) documented numerous cases of patients harmed by ex-gay therapy — and no true “cures.”

Instead of celebrating the new California law’s protection of religious counselors and its preservation of conversion therapy for adults, NARTH mourned that it has one less weapon to use against marriage equality.