June 28, 2013
Liberty Counsel Stands Ready to File Lawsuit Against New Jersey “Change Therapy” Bill
Trenton, NJ—Liberty Counsel sent a letter today to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie urging him to veto A3371, a bill that prohibits all sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). New Jersey counselors and parents of minors receiving change therapy counseling and national counseling organizations have contacted Liberty Counsel. If the bill goes into effect, Liberty Counsel will immediately file suit.
Liberty Counsel is currently litigating a case challenging California Senate Bill 1172, which is virtually identical to A3371, and has obtained an injunction against that law from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A3371 prohibits only one viewpoint regarding change counseling and, therefore, constitutes viewpoint discrimination. No viewpoint-based restriction on private speech has ever been upheld. The Supreme Court ruled that “the First Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others.”
Liberty Counsel has urged Gov. Christie to veto the bill. “We strongly encourage you to veto this overreaching bill and to refuse to vote for a law that blatantly infringes upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs and that tramples on the fundamental rights of parents in New Jersey to direct the upbringing of their children,” wrote Daniel J. Schmid, Litigation Counsel.
“Not one of the organizations mentioned in A3371 actually prohibits change therapy,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. Staver noted, “The government should stay out of the counseling room and should never come between a counselor and the client. This bill is so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested by the likes of Jerry Sandusky. This law would inflict serious damage to children, parents, and counselors,” said Staver.
A3371 relies upon the APA Task Force Report. However, the report was admittedly inconclusive as to the effectiveness of SOCE counseling. The APA Report says “sexual orientation issues in children are virtually unexamined,” and there is evidence of benefits of such counseling.
The Governor should reject this transparently unconstitutional law. It tramples the fundamental rights of counselors and clients, and it destroys the ability of patients to seek, and counselors to provide, counseling in accordance with their sincere desires and religious beliefs. It also runs roughshod over the fundamental rights of parents.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.
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