This past week, the Supreme Court heard a case where a baker asked for a religious exemption to Colorado state law so that he wouldn’t have to sell a cake to gay people.
Earlier this year, the city council voted to ban licensed mental health professionals from trying to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity. The law had an exemption for religious counselors who aren’t licensed mental health professionals, and it was only about minors.
Liberty Counsel, which filed the suit, said that the ban violates people’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The anti-LGBTQ hate group is known for having defended county clerk Kim Davis and her “constitutionally protected religious beliefs” that she claimed didn’t allow her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Now they argue that Tampa’s ban “harms licensed counselors and their clients by prohibiting minors and their parents from obtaining the counseling services they choose, after receiving full disclosure and providing informed consent, to resolve, reduce, or eliminate unwanted same-sex sexual attractions, behaviors, or identity.”
Their suit claims that the ban is “viewpoint discrimination” that violates “First Amendment and state constitutional rights” protecting free speech and free practice of religion. The city’s “intrusion… into the sacrosanct therapeutic alliance” of a therapist and a kid’s parents is happening because the city “does not like the religious beliefs of a particular client,” which Liberty Counsel says is illegal.
In a statement, Liberty Counsel also said that the ban violates the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which “permits counselors to offer, and clients to receive, treatment methods that they and their mental or health care practitioner believe is in their best interest.”
The Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities is available online and it says no such thing.
Mental health professionals don’t have a free speech right to sell any treatment they want. This is why they’re licensed in the first place. The government has a right to protect consumers by banning snake oil.
Moreover, the ban is viewpoint neutral – it bans professionals of all faiths from practicing conversion therapy.
Last, why is an anti-choice group arguing that people have a right to any medical procedure they want and that the state should never come between a doctor and their patient? That’s the opposite of what they normally argue.
Since we’re talking about minors here, the government is also well within its rights to ban a form of child abuse. If an adult wants to see a therapist who will give them electric shocks while watching gay porn, that’s still legal in Tampa. But if an adult wants to force their child to see that therapist, it’s not.
It doesn’t even matter if the conversion therapy is nonviolent – it’s abusive to make a kid hate themselves for their sexuality or gender.