A Federal judge has issued a preliminary ruling that Tampa, Florida’s ban on conversion therapy aimed at eliminating same-sex attractions is unconstitutional.
The anti-LGBTQ hate group Liberty Counsel brought the complaint on behalf of two therapists and a Christian ministry that provide counseling to help “reduce or eliminate same-sex sexual attractions, behaviors or identity.” They argued that because all they provide is talk therapy, their sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) constitute “speech” protected under the First Amendment that cannot be restricted by law. U.S. Magistrate judge Amanda Arnold Sansone agreed, recommending a preliminary injunction.
The reasoning isn’t difficult to understand: You have the right in America to believe whatever you like, and the right to speak those beliefs aloud.
Ironically, I pointed toward the exact matter of same-sex conversion therapy just the day before the ruling came down.
Suppose you overheard an adult telling his or her child, “You’re no damn good, and you’ll never be any damn good.” You’d be outraged, and rightly so; you might even call a social worker and report abuse. Why, then, should that same parent be applauded for taking the same child to church — nominally, at least, a wholesome thing to do — where a proxy tells the child the exact same thing: You’re no damn good, you’ll never be any damn good, and the only way to avoid the eternity of punishment you deserve is to join our club? Why is the first circumstance likely to be considered abusive, but the second good parenting?
Decades of research have shown that sexuality arises out of a complex of operating-system switches that are set before birth; gays really are born gay. Accordingly, numerous states have outlawed so-called “conversion therapy” for minors; if adults wish to submit to conversion therapy, they are welcome to do so.
Just as free speech is bounded by by understanding that you can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, neither is religious freedom absolute. You can’t sacrifice your firstborn child to an Invisible Friend, for example, even if you sincerely believe that doing so will guarantee a successful garlic crop. Likewise, conversion therapy is increasingly forbidden because it is affirmatively harmful; sexuality is hardcoded before birth, and no amount of encouragement or shaming can change that.
You might as well demand that a child born without an arm grow a new one by wishing real hard for a new arm. Ain’t going to happen.
My guess is that First Amendment arguments against same-sex conversion bans will win some cases, and lose others, eventually winding-up in the Supreme Court. No matter how that court decides, same-sex conversion therapy is on its way out. Every relevant professional society has condemned it, and only fringe schools — sectarian, usually — teach it. The science on sexual orientation is well-settled — and reality always has the last word.
I would like to see the degradation at the heart of Christian thought — Original Sin — given the heave-ho it deserves. Any parent who told their child he or she is no damn good would face a child abuse complaint — and so should the pastors who abuse children’s minds in church.