A lawsuit contends Maryland’s ban on any gender-confusion counseling that does not promote homosexuality or transgenderism violates the constitutional rights of counselors, parents and youth alike.
Liberty Counsel’s complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against the new state requirement.
The state measure prohibits minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion.
Such restrictions have been adopted in several states already, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in large part against states taking such moves, based on the First Amendment.
Advocates for the homosexual lifestyle have worked through lawmakers to impose the restrictions, which ban any counseling that does not advocate homosexuality and transgenderism.
Liberty Counsel is representing Christopher Doyle, a licensed professional counselor in Maryland.
Doyle is challenging Maryland’s SB 1028, which was signed into law by Maryland governor Larry Hogan and went into effect on Oct. 1, 2018.
It’s modeled after similar laws in California, New Jersey and other states that prohibit licensed counselors from providing such counseling to children and adolescents.
“These professionals provide life-saving counsel to minors who desperately desire to conform their attractions, behaviors, and identity to their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Liberty Counsel said. “The sacred trust between counselors and clients is a unique alliance that permits clients to inform the counselors of their own goals and receive counseling consistent with those goals.”
Liberty Counsel noted the Supreme Court gutted two lower court decisions cases last year that upheld similar therapy bans in California and New Jersey to be constitutional regulations of professional conduct that did not violate the First Amendment.
“Those cases, Pickup v. Brown and King v. Governor of New Jersey, have been relied upon by numerous other states and cities that have adopted similar bans,” Liberty Counsel said.
“With the Supreme Court’s rejection of Pickup and Brown, the therapy bans in California, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions are subject to constitutional challenge. Doyle is asking the Maryland federal district court to declare SB 1028 unconstitutional and to impose a preliminary and permanent injunction against its enforcement,” the organization reported.
Maryland purports to try to “protect” youngsters with its ban on counseling, but the “evidence” included in the law “misrepresents the empirical record.” And studies that were cited were biased, the filing argues.
WND reported in November that California lawmakers even proposed declaring such therapy to be consumer fraud.
But a case in federal court in Florida regarding such restrictions in the city of Boca Raton and the county of Palm Beach may be moving in the opposite direction.
A couple of ordinances limiting what counselors can say already are in place, and the non-profit legal group Liberty Counsel has been arguing to remove them.
The ordinances “prohibited minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion.”
Liberty Counsel is representing Robert W. Otto, Ph.D., and several of his patients, and Julie Hamilton, Ph.D., and her patients.