The Christian religious freedom legal group Liberty Counsel is taking the state of Maryland to federal court.
Liberty Counsel Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs Roger Gennam explained that his legal firm will not sit down and allow the state to grant special privileges to the LGBT community at the expense of Christians’ religious liberty.
"Maryland passed a law in October 2018 that makes it illegal for licensed counselors to have counseling with minors who want to avoid or reduce unwanted same-sex attractions or gender identify conflicts," Gannam informed in a report from the Liberty Counsel newsroom. “In other words, if a 17-year-old experiencing same-sex attraction wants to get some counseling to overcome or get through with it in order to confirm with that 17-year-old's sincerely held religious beliefs, the state of Maryland says that's illegal and it will go after the license of the counselor who provides any such counseling."
Gannam expects to be in court over the highly contentious issue sometime within the next 30 to 60 days.
"We've asked the court for a preliminary injunction, which means putting the law on hold so it can't be enforced while the lawsuit goes through the entire process of trial which could take many months, if not a year or more," the Christian attorney explained.
This kind of counseling ban has been enacted in nearly half the states – and even in some cities in other states.
"We are attacking them and challenging them because this really interferes with the right of free speech of counselors to simply talk with a client who wants some help in these areas of sexual orientation or gender identity," Gannam continued. "We filed cases in California and New Jersey previously, which were unfortunately unsuccessful, but the decisions in those cases were directly criticized by the U.S. Supreme Court just last year, and as result of that, it opens up these bans to new constitutional challenges, and our hope is that by winning in one of these jurisdiction – or even if we lose in one of these jurisdictions – we can take it up on appeal. That will eventually get up to the U.S. Supreme Court and give us a decision that applies around the country."
Meanwhile, Gannam warned that there is a lot of misinformation spreading around when it comes to the nature of this counseling.
"What you'll hear about, the narrative is that kids are taken kicking and screaming to church basements for shock therapy or some other egregiously wrong practice that simply isn't done," he assured. "In 2019, you're not going to find stuff like that happening, and if you do, those people should be held to account for improper and unethical practices, but the kind of counseling that we are talking about – the counselors whom we represent – it's like any other kind of mental health counseling [where] they [serve] clients and help these clients resolve whatever distress is going on in their lives, [so] this isn't involuntary, [and] it's not coercive."