A lawsuit has been filed against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered a leading candidate for president in 2016, over his decision to meddle in the successful therapy being used in his state for children who have unwanted same-sex attractions.
New Jersey was the second state, after California, to ban change therapies that allow children to get help for same-sex attractions. It’s also the second state, after California, to face legal action because of the censorship of therapists.
The case was brought by Liberty Counsel, which is representing a 15-year-old boy and his parents.
The legal team explained: “When this minor was just 10 years old, he began contemplating suicide because of gender identity confusion. He eventually developed unwanted same-sex attractions. Anxious and distressed, he developed obsessive-compulsive traits and suicidal tendencies. Eventually while on a family vacation, he tried to commit suicide in front of his parents by attempting to jump off of a hotel balcony.”
However, as a result of work with a licensed counselor, the boy “regained his self-confidence and is now secure in his masculinity.”
“He no longer or almost never experiences same-sex attractions, and he no longer has thoughts of suicide. This young man is certain that change therapy has helped him to overcome his feelings of hopelessness and despair, and he desperately desires to continue to receive the counseling.”
However, under the law signed by Christie, such speech by a counselor now is banned.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, explained that before states began passing legislation banning change therapy, the treatment was driven by the minor’s desired outcome.
“Our client and his family were on the way to that desired outcome, until Gov. Christie signed a law prohibiting further treatment,” he said.
Staver called change therapy bans “a flagrant violation of a client’s right to self-determination.”
“Gov. Christie has no right coming into the therapy session of this young man and telling him what kind of counseling he can receive,” Staver insisted. ” This is a horrible government intrusion into personal healthcare and counseling choices. Driven by ideology and not science, this law banning change therapy will seriously harm children and their parents.”
The suit seeks an injunction against the law.
Filed on behalf of John Doe, through his parents Jack and Jane Doe, the case challenges the constitutionality of New Jersey Assembly Bill No. 3371, alleging it violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of speech, free exercise of religion and parental rights.
The parents, the complaint argues, have a right “to direct the upbringing and education of their child” and “to do so free from unconstitutional government interference. ”
“They also have the First Amendment rights as parents to religious freedom and free speech, including the right to receive information and to provide information to their children,” it says.
Christie and his state, by enacting the speech ban, effectively have violated the rights of the plaintiffs to live by their values, including “their right to receive counseling consistent with those values.”
The lawsuit alleges violations of the First and 14th Amendments.
It notes that the state legislature relied on probably faulty or at least incomplete information from the American Psychological Association regarding the issue.
An APA task force looked at the appropriate application of affirmative therapeutic intervention for adults. But the study itself noted that children were not represented reasonably in the study.
As such, the APA said, “sexual orientation issues in children are virtually unexamined.”
However, the New Jersey law specifically singles out children, banning any sexual orientation change efforts with anyone under 18.
Several Christian counselors earlier sued New Jersey over the same law, challenging its constitutionality.
In California, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Aug. 29 upheld the law, but the plaintiffs are seeking a rehearing.
The California case, also being handled by Liberty Counsel, cites precedents that reject “the statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority” and affirm that “the right to family association includes the right of parents to make important medical decisions for their children, and of children to have those decisions made by their parents rather than the state.”
Staver said the minors he represents “do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior.”
“They are greatly benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much improved,” he said
Staver said legislators and judges in California “essentially barged into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and told them that their confusion, caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser, is normal and they should pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior, regardless of whether those minors desire their religious beliefs to trump their unwanted attractions.”
The petition for rehearing notes that the circuit court judges had found that the California law banned treatment but not speech, which poses a conflict.
Licensed counselors who are not medical doctors can help their clients only through speech, the petition contends.
“Consequently, the ‘practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation’ that SB1172 prohibits are speech.”
The petition argues that since the modern understanding of psychotherapy, including sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE, consists of speaking to clients, “prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in SOCE necessarily prevents them from discussing the pros and cons of SOCE or otherwise expressing their views regarding SOCE to their patients.”
“The panel’s attempt to differentiate between medical ‘treatment’ and ‘speech’ in the context of SOCE is a false dichotomy,” the petition asserts.
The brief points out that the judges even admitted that “the record shows that plaintiffs who are licensed mental health providers practice SOCE only through talk therapy.'”
Further, the ban is nothing more than a viewpoint-targeting censorship, the petition contends.
“The legislature demonstrated that its concern was with protecting only one viewpoint – the viewpoint that [same-sex attractions] should be affirmed, even if they are unwanted. The findings and the language of SB1172 indisputably show that the legislature seeks to ban only one viewpoint – counseling aimed at reducing or eliminating SSA,” the petition says.
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, called the earlier decision a “dark day for those who believe in the First Amendment and the rights of parents over the proper upbringing of their children.”
“Make no mistake, we are not finished in our efforts to overturn this outrageous legislation,” he said.
California was the first state to approve such First Amendment limitations, and when New Jersey followed, WND columnist Matt Barber expressed concern.
“The connection between homosexual abuse and ‘gay identity’ is undeniable. Consider this: Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that homosexual men are ‘at least three times more likely to report CSA (childhood sexual abuse)’ than heterosexual men,” he wrote. “Moreover, the Archives of Sexual Behavior – no bastion of conservatism – determined in a 2001 study that nearly half of all gay-identified men were molested by a homosexual pedophile: ’46 percent of homosexual men and 22 percent of homosexual women reported having been molested by a person of the same gender. This contrasts to only 7 percent of heterosexual men and 1 percent of heterosexual women reporting having been molested by a person of the same gender’ noted the study.”
He said besides the fact the laws violate the Constitution, the underlying claim isn’t true.
“For instance, both New Jersey Democrats and Christie cited the American Psychological Association, or APA, as justification for this gross infringement on the right of self-determination. Although, no doubt, the highly liberal APA supports this and similar Sandusky Laws for political reasons, the group’s own task force on change therapy – led entirely by members who themselves are ‘gay’-identified or known political activists – has had to admit, nonetheless, that homosexuality itself ‘refers to feelings and self-concept,'” he explained.
“Here’s the kicker: The APA also acknowledged that there is no evidence whatsoever that change therapy harms minors,” he continued.
It was last year when California lawmakers adopted a bill to ban medical and counseling professionals from engaging in “change therapy,” a practice utilized to reduce homosexual urges in those who don’t want them.
The law was adopted by majority Democrats in the state legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
S.B. 1172 is from a legislature that also demanded that school children “celebrate” the life of homosexual activist Harvey Milk.
The state’s lawmakers also recently adopted a requirement that schools allow students to have access to gender-specific facilities, such as locker rooms and rest rooms, according to their “gender identity.”
California has adopted numerous sexual indoctrination bills, including S.B. 48, which requires positive portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in public school social studies and history classes.