A law firm asking a federal court to permanently block Tampa's ordinance prohibiting licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions is waiting to learn whether the Florida city can continue its counseling ban.
"We just had our summary judgment hearing before the judge, and it went very well," reports Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. "The judge seemed to be very well versed in the issues, and we're now waiting for a ruling that should come down by the end of next week."
Liberty Counsel argues that the counseling ban both violates free speech and impacts individuals.
"You have all kinds of individuals that seek counseling for a variety of reasons. They seek counseling to align their stresses and overcome their stresses with their value system and what they want to ultimately achieve, and they ought to have that right," Staver contends. "In this particular case, Tampa not only deprives individuals of much needed counseling, but also forces the counselors to override the client's objective and force on them a pro-homosexual, pro-transgender agenda."
That, says Staver, is very damaging.
"In fact, the judge asked some questions, for example, about a person who had gone through some gender confusion. Say it's a boy and they think that they're a girl, but now they don't want to go down that road with the surgeries and they want to get some counsel," the attorney poses. "The question was, 'Is that counsel permitted?' And the city tried to answer that and said … it depends on certain circumstances. If that person already had in their mind that they did not want to transition, then it's okay. But if they ultimately got the idea from the counselor, then it's not.'"
The judge's response was the question of who gets to make that determination.
"That's exactly the problem with these government intrusions into the privacy of a counseling room," Staver concludes.