Law requiring health officials to find cure for homosexuality on way to dissolution

The state Assembly on Monday voted overwhelmingly for a bill that would strike down a decades-old law requiring state health officials to find a cure for homosexuality.
Lawmakers voted 62-0 for Assembly Bill 2199 by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). The bill deletes a portion of the state Welfare and Institutions Code that requires the state Department of Mental Health to find the “causes and cures of homosexuality.”
The law has been in effect since 1950. It was signed into law by then Gov. Earl Warren in April of that year. “Sixty years is more than long enough,” said Lowenthal.
The code was enacted in response to the molestation murder of 6-year-old Linda Joyce Glucoft in 1949. The Los Angeles girl was lured to her death by the grandfather of one of her playmates. Public outcry over the crime was so intense, Warren called a special session to deal with sex crimes.
Among the results of that special session was a law calling on the state’s mental-health officials to figure out why pedophiles prey on children. It was into that statute that lawmakers inserted the requirement that the state “cure” gay people.
“It didn’t fit then and it doesn’t belong now,” said Lowenthal. “It’s discriminatory and insulting, and it has to go.”
Currently, Section 8050 reads: “The State Department of Mental Health, acting through the superintendent of the Langley Porter Clinic, shall plan, conduct, and cause to be conducted scientific research into the causes and cures of sexual deviation, including deviations conducive to sex crimes against children, and the causes and cures of homosexuality, and into methods of identifying potential sex offenders.”
No such study has been conducted since the early 1950s. Lowenthal had first intended to repeal the entire act, but several of her colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, wanted to limit the repeal to the homophobic passage alone.
After talking with Linda Glucoft’s younger sister, who did not want the slain girl’s memory in any way linked to bigotry, Lowenthal opted to leave in place a section of the code that speaks to the Legislature’s original intent of preventing other such tragedies. The lawmaker said remaining code may stand as a legal memorial to the slain girl.
If passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, Section 8050 will in the future read: “The State Department of Mental Health shall plan, conduct, or cause to be conducted scientific research into the prevention of sex crimes against children and into methods of identifying those who commit sexual offenses.
“What we will be left with is piece of law that memorializes all that was good in the Legislature’s efforts to respond to the death of that little girl,” said Lowenthal. “And 60 years of libel and disrespect will be at an end.”
The bill will now head to the state Senate. If approved there, it will go to the governor to sign or veto.

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