Judge in Tampa Tosses City’s Ban on Same-Sex Attraction Counseling

‘The government has no business eavesdropping inside the counseling session between a counselor and client….’

Judge Recommends Tampa "Same-Sex Attraction Counseling Ban" Be Enjoined

Young LGBT supporters march in Tampa’s annual Diversity Parade. / IMAGE: Yaroslav Kuznetsov via Youtube

(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) Young people who are concerned about being attracted to members of the same sex will be able to seek talk therapy on the subject, ruled a federal magistrate judge.

Liberty Counsel heralded the ruling in a press release. On behalf of plaintiff counselors, the organization asked the judge to issue a preliminary injunction against a Tampa ordinance that banned licensed counselors from providing the therapy to confused minors.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Amanda Sansone agreed that the ordinance, passed in 2017, should be enjoined because it violates the First Amendment on a number of different grounds.

Plaintiffs argued the ordinance was unconstitutional because it was a “content restriction” that was not narrowly tailored to further a legitimate state interest, that it was viewpoint discrimination, that the ordinance was too broad, that it was a “prior restraint” and that it was so vague as to be unconstitutional.

A violation of any one of these five criteria would have been enough to render the ordinance unconstitutional. The Tampa ordinance violated all five tests.

Now, the magistrate’s recommendation will go before a federal district judge.

“The city of Tampa has no authority to prohibit counselors from providing counsel which their clients seek,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Our counseling clients engage in ‘talk therapy,’ which is the common practice of counselors.”

Liberty Counsel argued that the City of Tampa had the option of crafting a constitutional law by making it less restrictive, such as by making it apply only to minors who were being counseled involuntarily or by restricting techniques other than talk therapy. But under the ordinance, counselors were barred from interacting with clients on the subject at all.

“This well-reasoned opinion underscores the serious First Amendment violations of laws that dictate what a counselor and client may discuss in the privacy of their counseling session. The government has no business eavesdropping inside the counseling session between a counselor and client.”