Appeals court rules ban on ‘conversion therapy’ unconstitutional

‘This case is the beginning of the end’ for similar laws

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that ordinances in Florida banning the licensed counseling of people with unwanted same-sex attractions are unconstitutional violations of the freedom of speech.

“We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny,” the ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

The decision was the first from a federal appeals court laws against so-called “conversion therapy” – a term rejected by proponents – since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In NIFLA v. Becerra, the high court ruled the government cannot force an individual or organization to express a message chosen by the government.

The current case, Otto, et al v. City of Boca Raton, found that bans by Boca Raton and Palm Beach County violate the Constitution.

The case was fought by Liberty Counsel, which represents Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton and their minor clients.

Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said the ruling sets a precedent.

“This case is the beginning of the end of similar unconstitutional counseling bans around the country,” he said.

The licensed therapists say they provide lifesaving counseling to minors who want to conform their attractions, behaviors and gender identities to their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Under the laws struck down by the 11th Circuit, a counselor could encourage a client to take life-altering hormone drugs or undergo invasive surgery to remove healthy body parts. But a counselor was barred from helping a client who seeks to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.

The 2-1 decision from Judge Britt Grant, who was joined by Judge Barbara Lagoa, said the therapy is controversial, but as it is only “talk,” it is protected.

The dissent cited various left-leaning medical associations that claim such talk therapy is damaging to children.

The court said: “Nor can the local governments evade the First Amendment’s ordinary presumption against content-based speech restrictions by saying that the plaintiffs’ speech is actually conduct. We can understand why they would make this claim; if the ordinances restricted only non-expressive conduct, and not speech, then they would not implicate the First Amendment at all. Our Court, though, has already rejected the practice of relabeling controversial speech as conduct. In a case quite similar to this one, we laid down an important marker: ‘the enterprise of labeling certain verbal or written communications ‘speech’ and others ‘conduct’ is unprincipled and susceptible to manipulation/'”

Under such ordinances, which have been implemented across the nation, it “only matters that some words about sexuality and gender are allowed, and others are not,” the court said.

“Speech does not need to be popular in order to be allowed. The First Amendment exists precisely so that speakers with unpopular ideas do not have to lobby the government for permission before they speak,” the opinion said.

“The local governments are not entirely wrong when they characterize speech-based SOCE as a course of conduct. SOCE, after all, is a therapy, and plaintiffs say they want to ‘engage’ in it. But plaintiffs have the better of the argument. What the governments call a ‘medical procedure’ consists—entirely—of words. As the district court itself recognized, plaintiffs’ therapy ‘is not just carried out in part through speech: the treatment provided by Drs. Otto and Hamilton is entirely speech.’ If SOCE is conduct, the same could be said of teaching or protesting—both are activities, after all. Debating? Also an activity. Book clubs? Same answer. But the law does not require us to flip back and forth between perspectives until our eyes hurt.”

Scary Things Happen When Adults Fail to Do Their Duty, Celebrities Not Excepted

May 1, 2019 By Steve Pauwels

This has been skittering around the media lately:

Charlize Theron loves her kids. She can’t talk about them without holding back tears and in a recent interview with the Daily Mail she illustrates why she’s a truly great parent. In 2012 the actress adopted her second child, Jackson. … “I have two beautiful daughters,” she says. The actress goes on to explain that upon adopting Jackson, “I thought she was a boy…Until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: ‘I’m not a boy!’” … Theron says, “just like any parent, I want to protect [them] and I want to see [them] thrive.” … Theron’s response is a perfect example of how to deal with children transitioning.

The actress herself isn’t afraid to speak her mind on other topics … when it comes to dating, demanding men need to “grow a pair” and ask her out.

We’re supposed to cheer and swoon over this report, correct? That’s the unmistakable vibe. Still, newsflash: the superstar’s choices are a grievous example of an adult parent’s abdicating her responsibility toward her children. It’s nice she gets all dewy-eyed when speaking about them — but letting a three-year-old call the shots? Are you pranking me? Best case scenario, kids are regularly muddle-headed over any number or life-shaping issues well into their teens — and Yahoo is gushing because Charlize Theron celebrated her toddler son’s announcing he’s really a girl?

(And how about that “grow a pair” crack? She obviously thinks said “pair” is irrelevant if her little boy can essentially wave it away with one pre-pubescent pronouncement.)

What next from Trendy Parenting 101?

Hey, momma, I’m a bird! I’m gonna jump out the window and fly around the yard, okay?

That’s fine, dear. Just be back for dinner. And don’t poop on the car.

Jackson is ominously confused, and that tragedy is compounded by his equally, but less excusably, misguided mama.

The popular — and woefully overworked — expression “time to put on your big boy pants!” turns on a self-evident understanding: Mature individuals are supposed to engage necessary tasks which juveniles might avoid because they are difficult or unpleasant. In an earlier, less arch, era, it would have been framed this way: “Time to act like a grown-up!”

The “big-boy-pants” construction loses all logical traction if kids and adults are essentially the same — except smaller, bigger, younger or whatever. Seems to me “time to act like a three-year-old!” just doesn’t carry the same oomph.

Back in the early 1980s, I heard a favorite Bible teacher articulate, “Parents are not first called to be their children’s friends, but their parents.” Some may have classified it a rather mundane observation, but nearly four decades ago it left an impression on me; and, I concede, I had no idea what was on the way culturally. A pre-schooler with a penis and XY chromosomes announces he is actually a girl, and mom throws the thumbs up? Well …

God invented mothers and fathers to guarantee the propagation of the species; not just reproducing offspring, but raising them to fruitfully continue the process themselves later in their lives. Parents are to birth children, then protect them, guide them, introduce them incrementally to reality so they can survive when they achieve their own independence. That routinely involves setting limits; telling the wee ones “No” when appropriate; informing them “Your wrong” when, in fact, they are.

It entails a willingness to be a temporary “bad guy” in the eyes of their children (accent on temporary); to risk their progeny’s “disliking” them for a season because they intend the long-term best for that very same progeny.

Sure, that approach might elicit a tantrum from those momentarily on its receiving end; screaming and foot-stomping could ensue, water-works flow. That’s where the elder participant is supposed to remind the youthful one that human beings aren’t mere beasts; we aren’t to be controlled by our passions, rages, instincts or brute physical impulses. Turns out, we’re blessed with the ability to delay gratification when that’s the prudent course; to deny our transitory appetites; to refuse foolishness even when it tantalizingly beckons.

Time was most adults would shrug their shoulders at that arrangement – perhaps not especially enjoying it, but accepting that’s the way it is; recognizing there’s no profit pretending otherwise. Meantime, nowadays, “pretending” has become fashionable, even sophisticated.

Mommy, I’m going to pretend I’m the opposite of what my birth certificate says!

Terrific, darling! I’ll pretend along with you that’s normal and healthy.

Responsible caretakers, conversely, understand: If they hang in there “adulting”, it’s a good wager the kids will come around eventually. In 1944’s Going My Way, Father O’Malley (Bing Crosby) muses, “You know, when I was eighteen, I thought my father was pretty dumb … [W]hen I got to be twenty-one, I was amazed to find out how much he’d learned in three years.” One of my now-grown sons, who gave us our share of fits during his school-age phase, still apologizes occasionally for those boyish indiscretions.

Today, a generation is marinating in the potentially lethal preposterousness that just wanting something or saying something makes it so. What’ll they do when facts on the ground demonstrate otherwise? When their new boss shoots them down the first day of their job for insisting they deserve the same perqs as a twenty-five-year veteran? When the coach tells them that, despite their protestations, they won’t be starting quarterback because they can’t complete a pass? When the bank requires their mortgage payments arrive by the due date even though they complain they ought to have a few weeks’ grace?

Mind you, in sixteen states and the nation’s capital, the apparatus of government presently requires some parents play make-believe along with their sons and daughters: “Conversion Therapy Laws” decree it officially illegal for a concerned mom or solicitous dad to take their gender-confused minor for licensed counselling to help him work through his possibly transitory, hormone-driven identity issues. Catch that? In America 2019, parents’ attempting to help their child reconcile himself to reality — Illegal.

State-enforced fantasy. Delusion courtesy of government facilitation.

Ms. Theron and those sharing her parenting philosophy likely consider these policies positively peachy. Of course, they’re manifestly an atrocity – a failure of family and state to carry out their inherent duty to the youngsters in their purview.

The Academy Award-winner gets emotional commenting on her children? Thanks to her currently reckless behavior, more tears could await her and her son down the road – only not the warm-n-fuzzy kind to which they’ve become accustomed.

Original here