Tag archives: Alliance Defending Freedom

New York City to Repeal Ban on Adult Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

by Peter Sprigg

September 19, 2019

It’s not often that a legislative body moves to repeal a law that it enacted less than two years earlier—especially when it passed by a vote of 43-2.

Nevertheless, this week Corey Johnson, speaker of the New York City Council (who openly self-identifies as gay) announced that he will move to repeal a city-wide ban on sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which critics of the practice call “conversion therapy.” My colleague Cathy Ruse has also written about this development at The Stream.

The law was enacted in late 2017 and just took effect last year.

Why the about-face? Unfortunately, it’s not because of a new-found respect for the rights of people with unwanted same-sex attractions to seek the help they desire.

Instead, they fear that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike the law down as unconstitutional.

In January 2019, an Orthodox Jewish therapist, Dr. David Schwartz, filed a lawsuit challenging the new law. He is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

As ADF points out in their complaint, “The Counseling Censorship Law is unprecedented. It is the first in the nation to censor speech between counselors and adult patients.” The 18 states, and other localities, that have already restricted SOCE have only prohibited the practice with minors—on the theory that they are more vulnerable to coercion and less able to give informed consent.

A bill similar to the New York City law, AB 2943, was considered in California last year, but was withdrawn by its sponsor at the last minute. California instead recently adopted a non-binding resolution, ACR 99, condemning SOCE.

Previously, therapy bans for minors in California and New Jersey had been upheld in federal circuit court decisions. Additional lawsuits are pending in Maryland and Florida.

What was different about New York City? For one thing, its scope. Not only did it ban therapy for adults (not just minors), but it also barred any such assistance “offered or provided to consumers for a fee,” regardless of whether the individual is a licensed mental health provider. Rather than facing a professional sanction such as the loss of a license, violators could be fined up to $10,000.

Although the Supreme Court has not yet heard a challenge to therapy bans, it has not been silent about them. In the 2018 case of NIFLA v. Becerra, the court struck down a California law that essentially required pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortions, ruling the law violated the centers’ First Amendment free speech rights. California had defended the law (as they defended their therapy ban for minors in a case called Pickup v. Brown) by arguing that certain kinds of “professional speech” do not have the same First Amendment protections. Justice Thomas rejected that view in his majority opinion in the NIFLA case:

Some Courts of Appeals have recognized “profes­sional speech” as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules. See, e.g., … Pickup v. Brown, 740 F. 3d 1208, 1227–1229 (CA9 2014) … . These courts define “professionals” as indi­viduals who provide personalized services to clients and who are subject to “a generally applicable licensing and regulatory regime.” … Pickupsupra, at 1230. “Professional speech” is then defined as any speech by these individuals that is based on “[their] expert knowledge and judgment,” or that is “within the confines of [the] professional relationship,” Pickupsupra, at 1228. So defined, these courts except professional speech from the rule that content-based regulations of speech are subject to strict scru­tiny. See  … Pickupsupra, at 1053– 1056 … .

But this Court has not recognized “professional speech” as a separate category of speech. Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by “professionals.” This Court has “been reluctant to mark off new categories of speech for diminished constitutional protection.” And it has been especially reluctant to “exemp[t] a category of speech from the normal prohibition on content-based restrictions.” This Court’s prece­dents do not permit governments to impose content-based restrictions on speech without “‘persuasive evidence … of a long (if heretofore unrecognized) tradition’” to that effect.

This Court’s precedents do not recognize such a tradi­tion for a category called “professional speech.”

I wrote about the implications of this for therapy bans in a blog post in July 2018, “Will the Supreme Court Save Sexual Orientation Change Efforts?” It appears that some of the leaders of the LGBT movement may have come around to the same realization.

This is yet another illustration of the fact that elections—and judicial nominations—have consequences.

Alliance Defending Freedom: Open Letter to Planned Parenthood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 9, 2014

When Planned Parenthood opined recently that the Bible is silent about abortion, the surprise and dismay of Evangelical Protestants and traditional Catholics was — rightly — exceptionally high. The reason? OF COURSE the Bible speaks, at length, about the sanctity of human life within the womb.

My friend Casey Mattox of FRC’s ally Alliance Defending Freedom has written a short but decisive refutation of Planned Parenthood’s complete misstatement of the Bible’s teaching; it is copied below. Let’s pray for Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and those in her circle of influence who assert that Scripture is silent on the personhood of the unborn child.

Dear Ms. Richards:

I recently learned that Planned Parenthood has published a “Pastoral Letter” which tells women:

“The truth is that abortion is not even mentioned in the Scriptures — Jewish or Christian — and there are clergy and people of faith from all denominations who support women making this complex decision.”

It appears that this letter is no longer available on your website, but an archived version can be found here for your reference (page 3). While I disagree with Planned Parenthood’s exegesis of Scripture, I am not writing to debate that point. Instead, I write to express my agreement with Planned Parenthood, reflected in the publication of this pastoral letter, that for many women their religious beliefs will be very relevant to their decision about whether to have an abortion.

On that common ground, on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, I would like to offer Planned Parenthood one free copy of the Bible for every Planned Parenthood facility in the country. Planned Parenthood could place these Bibles in their waiting rooms and permit women the opportunity to explore for themselves what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures have to say about abortion. There is no doubt that we are on opposite sides of this theological and moral question. But as we are in apparent agreement that Scripture and its teachings (or lack thereof in your view) on abortion would be relevant to many women’s abortion decisions, making these Bibles available to those women would certainly benefit your potential customers.

To allay any concerns you might have, the Bibles Alliance Defending Freedom would provide to Planned Parenthood would be new unmarked copies. For instance, we would not highlight Psalm 127:3 (“Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward”), Psalm 139:13 (“You knit me together in my mother’s womb…”), Psalm 22:10-11 (“You have been my guide since I was first formed … from my mother’s womb you are my God”) or Jeremiah 1:5 (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”).

We would not dog-ear Exodus 20:13 (“You shall not kill”). Nor would we even place a bookmark at Luke 1:41, 44 (where the “baby [John the Baptist] … leapt for joy” in his mother’s womb when the baby Jesus was nearby in Mary’s womb).

Rather, we would make these Bibles available, unedited and without emphasis of any kind, allowing those women visiting a Planned Parenthood facility to review them themselves.

We look forward to assisting you in this effort to ensure that women are empowered to decide for themselves what the Bible teaches on this important question. Please let me know at your earliest convenience the addresses to which each Bible should be sent.

Sincerely,
Casey Mattox
Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom

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