FL Counseling Ban Goes to Appeals Court

Feb 11, 2020

MIAMI, FL -- Liberty Counsel presents oral argument today before a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the constitutionality of ordinances in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County which prohibit minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or behaviors, or gender confusion. 

The laws ban any counsel where the goal is to change. Currently, a counselor can encourage a client to take life-altering hormone drugs or even undergo invasive surgery to remove healthy body parts, but a counselor cannot help a client who seeks to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions, behavior, or confusion.

Liberty Counsel represents Dr. Robert Otto, LMFT and Dr. Julie Hamilton, LMFT and their minor clients. These licensed therapists provide life-saving counseling to minors who desperately desire to conform their attractions, behaviors, and gender identities to their sincerely held religious beliefs. City Ordinance 5407 and County Ordinance 2017-046 now prohibit minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County. 

The appeal is from an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg denying a preliminary injunction blocking the ordinances which was sought by Liberty Counsel’s clients. In denying the preliminary injunction, Judge Rosenberg disregarded binding precedent and avoided ruling on the central constitutional claim in the case. 

Two of the three federal court judges on today’s panel were nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “These ordinances are unconstitutional speech restrictions that not only violate the First Amendment but are harmful to children who cannot receive the counseling they desire. It is just a matter of time before one of these cases goes to the Supreme Court, hopefully ending these horrible speech restrictions,” said Staver. 

Liberty Counsel is a 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. Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.