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Appeals court to hear challenge to gay therapy ban

Lisa Leff, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal appeals court is wrangling over the legality of California's first-in-the-nation bid to ban "sexual-orientation change" counseling of children.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday closely questioned lawyers on both sides of the issue. The judges asked whether licensed mental health professionals who offer such therapy are protected by free-speech rights, and whether they're offering medical treatment that can be regulated by the government.

Two lower courts have split on the issue.

The appeals court put the regulation on hold until it decides the case. The court will rule later on a law now under consideration in other states.