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Judge torpedoes ban on counseling against same-sex feelings - WND
Faith Health Politics
City tried to dictate speech of licensed therapists
By WND Staff
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A federal judge has torpedoed the city of Tampa's attempt to block licensed counselors from helping patients overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.
Similar laws have been defeated in other jurisdictions.
In Tampa, U.S. District Judge William Jung granted summary judgment to Liberty Counsel in its lawsuit against Tampa's ordinance prohibiting "licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity."
The ruling, which permanently strikes the ordinance, was based on the fact that cities don't have the authority to regulate health care.
"According to the city, the ordinance regulates medical professionals and 'part of the practice of medicine' within the city limits," the judge said. "The city is unaware of any child every receiving proscribed SOCE [sexual orientation change effort] in the city. The city has never before substantively regulated and disciplined the practice of medicine, psychotherapy, or mental health treatment with city limits. Nor does the city possess charter or home rule authority to do so."
The ordinance, the judge said, "is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline."
Liberty Counsel defended marriage and family therapist Robert Vazzo and his minor clients, as well as New Hearts Outreach Tampa Bay.
The judge also noted: "Nothing is more intimate, more private, and more sensitive, than a growing young man or woman talking to a mental health therapist about sex, gender, preferences, and conflicting feelings. The ordinance inserts the city’s code enforcers into the middle of this sensitive, intense and private moment. But this moment is already governed by Florida’s very broad rights of privacy, something the ordinance ignores. ... The Florida Constitution's privacy amendment suggests that government should stay out of the therapy room. The Tampa Ordinance does not address this constitutional issue, and in doing so the city attempts to occupy a very private space, contrary to a strong statewide policy."
The judge also pointed out the city's move "eliminates" a "longstanding parental right without discussion or exception."
Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver called it a great victory for counselors and clients.
"The city of Tampa has no authority to prohibit counselors from helping their clients achieve their goals," he said. "Regulating healthcare is above the pay grade of local municipalities. While striking down the ordinance, the court shredded the arguments used to justify these unconstitutional counseling bans. This ruling dooms every municipality in Florida and is the beginning of the end of more than 50 similar local laws around the country. This ruling also shows clearly why the other statewide laws will meet the same fate as Tampa. The First Amendment will wipe away every one of these speech-restrictive laws."
A magistrate judge, ruling the city's ban likely violated the First Amendment, recommended to the district court that the ordinance be killed.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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