The Waterloo City Council repealed a counseling censorship ordinance after receiving a letter threatening legal action, Liberty Counsel announced in a press release. The letter was sent on behalf of a client whose First Amendment freedoms were threatened by the City Council’s actions.
The counseling prohibition was passed in May 2023, by a vote of 6-1. Under the guise of banning so-called “conversion therapy,” the City Council prohibited any medical or mental health professional from helping minors struggling with unwanted homosexuality or transgenderism.
As the Daily Citizen has previously stated, “conversion therapy” is a term invented by activists who oppose the truth that some people with same-sex attractions or gender identity confusion don’t want to embrace those thoughts, feelings, identities or behaviors. It is a non-existent practice – but these bans have the effect of prohibiting legitimate professional therapy for those with unwanted sexual identity confusion or homosexual identity, attractions and behaviors.
The therapy ban meant that licensed counselors could not help a teen girl struggling with sexual identity confusion to embrace her innate femininity and accept herself as a young woman, created in the image of God.
Under the ordinance, if a boy was struggling with homosexual fantasies, pornography or sexual activity, a counselor could not assist him in living according to his Christian faith.
Individuals struggling with unwanted homosexual or transgender issues – whether Christian or not – should have the right to go to a counselor of their choice, who shares their beliefs about sexuality and relationships, who will help them – through normal, ethical counseling practices – to live according to their values.
Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit that engages in litigation related to Christian values, advocating on behalf of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family. The organization stated:
Liberty Counsel’s June 30 demand letter showed that local governments in Iowa do not have the authority to regulate licensed counseling because the Iowa Legislature has given that power solely to Iowa’s Board of Behavior Science.
In addition, the letter explained that Waterloo’s ban on counseling therapy (erroneously called “conversion therapy”) was “offensive to the First Amendment” because it banned counseling “based on the viewpoint of that counseling.”
The letter was sent on June 30, 2023, the same day the Supreme Court decided 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a landmark decision affirming the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Liberty Counsel’s letter quoted that decision:
[T]he First Amendment protects an individual’s right to speak his mind regardless of whether the government considers his speech sensible and well intentioned or deeply “misguided.” … Nor, in any event, do the First Amendment’s protections belong only to speakers whose motives the government finds worthy; its protections belong to all, including to speakers whose motives others may find misinformed or offensive.”
The letter also pointed to Liberty Counsel cases in Boca Raton, Palm Beach and Tampa, Florida, where counselors had prevailed against similar counseling bans – at a high cost to the cities involved. In addition to attorney’s fees and costs, Boca Raton and Palm Beach together paid $175,000 to therapists involved in that case. In the Tampa case, Liberty counsel received a $950,000 settlement in April.
That’s more than a million good reasons for cities and states to refrain from abridging counselors’ and clients’ freedom of speech.
Currently, 22 states and more than 110 cities and counties have similar free speech bans in place. Courts in different parts of the country have split on decisions over this government censorship, and it is likely that one or more of these cases will soon head to the Supreme Court.
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