Hate Group Files Suit Against State 'Conversion Therapy' Ban

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday January 23, 2019

Anti-LGBTQ hate group Liberty Counsel — the organization that defended Kim Davis, the now-former county clerk from Kentucky who generated headlines when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — has a new client, media outlets report.

Christopher Doyle, a practitioner of so-called "conversion therapy," a debunked "cure" for gayness that reputable mental health professionals have roundly decried as ineffectual and dangerous, has brought suit seeking an injunction against Maryland's ban on the practice when it comes to minors.

15 states currently ban the pseudoscientific pseudo-cure, but Doyle and Liberty Counsel are hoping to reverse the trend of state laws protecting children from a practice that has been likened to torture. Their argument has nothing to do with medical necessity but rather is built on what they claim to First Amendment protections.

At the heart of the argument, news sources note, is a ruling from the Supreme Court in which a California state law was struck down as unconstitutional. That law, ThinkProgress explained in an article from last summer, "found that the state cannot compel crisis pregnancy centers to share messages they disagree with — even though it can still compel abortion providers to share messages they disagree with.

"In short, " ThinkProgress summarized, "the state can only mandate what medical providers say when they are being honest, not when they're trying to deceive their clients."

Liberty Counsel has its hopes pinned on another case challenging California law, "Pickup v. Brown" which sought to undo California's state law against inflicting "conversion therapy" on minors, as well as a case seeking to overturn a similar New Jersey ban, ThinkProgress noted. In those cases, federal courts upheld the state laws, and the Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging those rulings. But the composition of the Supreme Court has now tilted decisively to the right, and Liberty Counsel is hoping, news outlets say, to take its arguments against those state laws back to the Supreme Court and get a favorable reception in the near future.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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