Judge rules that Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy may infringe on rights of therapists, in landmark case


(FILE PHOTO government public works / teen therapy)

The right to free speech is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and should never be impacted by the politically driven opinions of demagogues, one magistrate judge essentially said last week in a landmark case with possible implications for those who believe in free speech and religious liberty.

In the case of a lawsuit filed by a Christian ministry and two marriage/family therapists against Tampa over its 2017 ban on conversion therapy for minors, U.S. Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone ruled that the ban is unconstitutional because it violates their free speech rights.

As a result, the judge recommended a limited injunction against Tampa’s ban “against non-coercive, non-aversive SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts] counseling,” i.e. therapy.

Were the injunction approved by a federal judge, it would allow confused children who voluntarily seek to speak with a therapist about how to overcome their homosexual urges the right to do so. As of early February 2018, children in the city of Tampa did not possess this right.

However, Sansone also made it clear that dangerous forms of “conversion therapy” such as electroshock therapy should still rightly remain banned due to their adverse effects.

Her report will be sent to a federal district judge for a final decision.

This could be a monumental moment for the growing number of Americans who believe everybody — including children — should possess the right to obtain the counseling they desire — and who likewise believe in freedom of speech and religious liberty.

It’s an issue that’s also been playing out in New York City, where last year the state imposed a ban on therapists offering services to those who “seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or seek to change a person’s gender identity to conform to the sex of such individual that was recorded at birth.”

Now fast forward to last month, when an Orthodox Jewish psychotherapist by the name of Dr. Dovid Schwartz reportedly filed a federal lawsuit against the city for violating his free speech rights.

“All Americans, secular and religious, deserve the right to private conversations, free from government censorship,” his attorney, Roger Brooks of the Alliance Defending Freedom, noted at the time. “It is difficult to imagine a more direct violation of freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment than New York City’s attempt to regulate the private sessions between an adult and his counselor.”


The association further pointed to the double standards at play:

“Notably, the law only prohibits counsel in one direction—assisting a patient who desires to reduce same-sex attraction or achieve comfort in a gender identity that matches her or his physical body. The law threatens increasing fines of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 for first, second, and subsequent violations.”

“By contrast, counseling that steers a patient towards a gender identity different than his or her physical body is permitted. Unlike other existing counseling censorship laws, it is unprecedented in its reach—extending to the counseling of willing adult patients.”

True. The same “dozens of mental health, medical and LGBT rights groups” who have condemned conversion therapy, as noted by The Washington Post, see nothing wrong with encouraging (and sometimes even forcing) children and adults alike to adopt another gender or no gender.

In fact, according to these sorts of politically corrupted activists and scientists, the age-old process of labeling a child male or female based on his or her genitals “has no foundation in science.”

Never mind the actual biological science …

What’s real science good for? Absolutely nothing, apparently …

The founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the litigation firm that represented the plaintiffs, was hopeful of what’s to come.

“The city of Tampa has no authority to prohibit counselors from providing counsel which their clients seek. Our counseling clients engage in ‘talk therapy,’ which is the common practice of counselors,” founder and chairman Mat Staver said.

This well-reasoned opinion underscores the serious First Amendment violations of laws that dictate what a counselor and client may discuss in the privacy of their counseling session. The government has no business eavesdropping inside the counseling session between a counselor and client.”



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