Tampa Counseling Ban Goes to Court

Nov 15, 2018

TAMPA, FL – Liberty Counsel is in federal court today seeking a preliminary injunction to suspend an ordinance adopted by the city of Tampa which prohibits licensed counselors from providing talk therapy to minors seeking to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity. The ordinance imposes significant monetary fines on counselors who provide such counseling.

Liberty Counsel represents Robert Vazzo, LMFT, David Pickup, LMFT, and their minor clients. The sacred trust between counselors and clients establishes a unique relationship that permits the clients to inform the counselors of their goals and receive counseling consistent with such goals. That therapeutic alliance has long been held sacred and inviolable. 

Ordinance 2017-47 violates the First Amendment by imposing a viewpoint and content-based prohibition on the speech on licensed professionals in Tampa who offer change counseling. The State of Florida is the only government body with authority to regulate mental health practitioners in the state, and local government bodies are not empowered to contradict state regulations.

“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. “The government has no business eavesdropping inside the counseling rooms, and the city has no authority to enact a local counseling regulation,” said Staver.

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