Tampa Federal Judge Recommends “Conversion Therapy” Ban be Struck Down

February 11, 2019
Daren Mehl, 469-850-2171
Tampa Federal Judge Recommends “Conversion Therapy” Ban be Struck Down 
“The First of Many to Come,” Says National Task Force for Therapy Equality 
Tampa, Florida– One week after an historic ruling in Tampa, Florida recommended that a “conversion therapy” ban be halted for minors seeking professional counseling for unwanted same-sex attractions and gender identity conflicts, the legal community is now beginning to recognize the inherent unconstitutionality of these laws. On January 30, Federal Magistrate Amanda Arnold Sansone ruled that plaintiffs’ Robert Vazzo, David Pickup, and New Hearts Outreach free speech rights had been violated by the ban, and that the city presented no evidence of minors being harmed by so-called “conversion therapy” within the city of Tampa.
Accordingly, Judge Sonsone, an Obama appointee, recommended a limited injunction against talk therapy that seeks to help minor clients resolve homosexual and gender identity conflicts, while keeping coercive and aversive counseling, such as electric shock therapies – methods that are not standard and accepted in the therapeutic community – banned. The recommendation will now go the 11th Circuit Federal Court, where it will likely be confirmed and the law struck down.
David Pickup, licensed marriage and family therapist and co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, also the co-founder of the National Task Force, commented:
“We are thrilled that ethical, licensed therapy for minors will once again be legal in the city of Tampa. This ruling is the first of many to come, and we expect similar rulings across the country as these laws become challenged in more Federal courts. Every client deserves the freedom to resolve unwanted attractions, behaviors, and feelings that do not align with their deeply held, personal, and spiritual beliefs. It is not the business of the government to determine what is and is not acceptable conversation between client and therapist. The rights of clients should be held sacred, especially when it comes to their deeply held religious values.”
The decision in Tampa comes on the heels of a landmark Supreme Court ruling last June, where a 5-4 majority struck down the concept of “professional speech” in National Institute of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra, as the state of California via the “Reproductive Freedom Act” tried to force pro-life pregnancy centers to recommend free and low-cost abortions to their clients, against the religious values of the centers. The ruling has provided a new precedent against previous Federal court rulings in the 3rd and 9th Circuits, which upheld “conversion therapy” bans by inventing a separate category of “professional speech” that has now been struck down as unconstitutional.
Christopher Doyle, licensed professional counselor, co-founder of the National Task Force, and plaintiff in a pending lawsuit against the state of Maryland’s “conversion therapy” ban law, further commented on the ruling:
“We are grateful that the judge in Tampa has recognized what the Supreme Court ruled last summer — speech is speech! Just because certain types of speech may be unpopular to politicians in liberal cities and states does not give them the authority to regulate what the Constitution grants as a sacrosanct right! It is important for the courts to distinguish between potential harmful medical conduct and safe, ethical counseling that relies on a certain viewpoint. Licensed, ethical therapy that helps clients resolve unwanted same-sex attractions and gender identity conflicts uses well-established, evidence-based psychological practices while upholding and affirming the client’s right to maintain their values around sexuality. This is a sacred right, and it’s time courts across the country recognize it as such!”
Please contact the National Task Force to request an interview with with David Pickup and/or Christopher Doyle