Legal Briefs (April 2013)

NASW joined California mental health professional associations in filing an amicus brief in the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Pickup v. Brown.

The brief supports the recently passed California law (S.B. 1172) that bans the use of “sexual orientation change efforts” by licensed mental health professionals who treat minors. The trial court refused to strike down the new law and NASW supports an affirmation of this decision by the appeals court.

The brief states the the District Court was correct in concluding that S.B. 1172 is a valid exercise of California’s power to regulate mental health professionals within the state and to protect minor children from injury.

“This court, therefore, should affirm the trial court’s order denying plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction and allow S.B. 1172 to be enforced to prevent harm to a new generation of children who would otherwise be subjected to these ineffective and often dangerous treatments,” it states.

NASW and its fellow amici were represented by a pro bono legal team from Arnold & Porter LLP in San Francisco.

The Supreme Court of Kansas issued a decision in the case Frazier v. Goudschaal on Feb. 22, upholding a co-parenting agreement signed by two lesbian mothers who formed a family via artificial insemination of one parent and who later separated.

NASW, through its Legal Defense Fund, filed an amicus brief in August 2010, which presented the social science research supporting the importance of parent-child attachment bonds, regardless of a biological relationship.

The court noted in two instances NASW’s amicus brief contribution. At page 17 of the opinion, the court summarized NASW’s social science arguments and at page 29, the court found that the children were third-party beneficiaries of their mothers’ co-parenting agreement, such that “severing an attachment relationship formed under that contract would … risk emotional psychological harm, as the NASW asserts … .”

NASW Associate Counsel Sherri Morgan said the court’s ruling that the co-parenting agreement was legally enforceable establishes a valuable precedent for children in similarly situated families in Kansas.

The court interpreted the Kansas Parentage Act in a manner that was gender-neutral, finding that the agreement was not injurious to the public and does not violate public policy, and was for “the advantage and welfare of the children.”

Visit the Amicus Brief Database for more information.