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Published On: Thu, Aug 8th, 2019

Maryland same-sex, transgender counseling ban heads to court

Liberty Counsel is in federal district court today seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against Maryland’s law which prohibits minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion.
In Doyle v. Hogan, Liberty Counsel represents Christopher Doyle, a licensed professional counselor in Virginia and Maryland. Doyle is challenging Maryland’s SB 1028, which was signed into law by Maryland governor Larry Hogan and went into effect on October 1, 2018. Doyle is asking the Maryland federal district court to declare SB 1028 unconstitutional and to impose a preliminary and permanent injunction against its enforcement.

photo courtesy of LC.org

SB 1028 is modeled after similar laws in California, New Jersey, Florida and other states that prohibit licensed counselors from providing talk therapy to children and adolescents who want to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion. These professionals provide lifesaving counsel to minors who desperately desire to conform their attractions, behaviors, and identity to their sincerely held religious beliefs. The sacred trust between counselors and clients is a unique alliance that permits clients to inform the counselors of their own goals and receive counseling consistent with those goals.
In June 2018, the Supreme Court gutted two lower court decisions that held similar therapy bans in California and New Jersey to be constitutional regulations of professional conduct that did not violate the First Amendment. Those cases, Pickup v. Brown and King v. Governor of New Jersey, have been relied upon by numerous other states and cities that have adopted similar bans. With the Supreme Court’s rejection of Pickup and Brown, the therapy bans in California, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions are subject to constitutional challenge.
Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This Maryland counseling ban is an unconstitutional speech restriction that violates the First Amendment and prevents minors from getting the help they seek to eliminate or reduce their unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion. The law is a gross intrusion into the fundamental rights of counselors and clients. No government has the authority to prohibit a form of counseling simply because it does not like the religious or moral beliefs of a particular counselor or client,” said Staver.

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