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Third Circuit Upholds New Jersey Ban on 'Gay-Conversion' Therapy

Or . . . You Can't Fix What Isn't Broken - Redux.

New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Trial Lawyer Kevin Costello Discusses 3d Circuit's Upholding of New Jersey's Ban on 'Gay-Conversion' Therapy

I posted a Blog in December of last year which followed on a Blog of even earlier than that about the subject of "Gay-Conversion" Therapy. As I get older, I've become more blunt and less apologetic about calling bullshit what it is.

My first Blog on the subject was about the Bill which sought to ban this type of "therapy" in New Jersey. Before we go on, let's stop calling it "therapy" and call it was it is: mental abuse disguised as "therapy" which is in turn cover for religious terrorism. Calling it "therapy" nicely protects this brainwashing from exposure as nothing more than an attempt by religious people (the parents as well as the "therapist") to force gay people - usually very young, very vulnerable gay people - into being "cured" of sexual orientation in accordance with religious doctrine. The therapy might not mention religious doctrine, but it's always at the root of this bullshit "therapy."

Sometimes, sadly, people in charge of their own fates do it to themselves, because they've been raised in such a doctrinaire environment that they can't get that mental poisoning out of their heads, and they live with guilt over the fact that they're homosexual and hate themselves for it. Obviously, the vast majority of the victims, on the other hand, are minor people under the age of 18 who have little choice but to abide by their parents' or guardians' wishes in undergoing this "therapy." They may even hope to succeed or attempt willingly and wholeheartedly to buy into it, but this "therapy" can't "fix" or "cure" homosexuality because homosexuality isn't a choice or a disease, it's simply a biological condition. It's like offering a dog a "cure" so he can be the "cat" "nature" (deity) "intended."

So now that we know what this "therapy" actually is, let's discuss.

As I said in my Blog last year, true therapy is a medicinal modality. Its purpose is to fix something that's gone wrong with the normal biological plan for a human being. Sometimes this modality is psychiatric or psychological, and it's meant to get around bad things that happen to people in their lives (abuse, loss, shell-shock, etc.). True "therapy" should never be based upon superstition, folklore, self-hatred or mythology.

If you want a bit more of the rant on this nonsensical "therapy," check out my Blog of December 2013 (linked at the beginning of this post). Let's move on, however, to the Bill, to the Law and to the recent 3d Circuit Decision.

New Jersey quickly passed a Bill banning this therapy, the Bill was passed into Law, and then the expected eccentrics came out of the woodwork to argue in favor of the banned "therapy." Their objections - being nonsensical and founded upon mythology, self-hatred and fear - aside, their efforts were unsuccessful. Their efforts to convince the legislature to repeal the Bill or to convince a popular "groundswell" to oppose the Bill being unsuccessful, they filed suit. The challenge made its way to the Federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes New Jersey, on a challenge to constitutionality. The theory was that the "conversion therapy" represented an exercise of "free speech," which, by the way, entirely gives the lie to the arguments that this "therapy" is anything other than brainwashing. If the religious movements behind this "therapy" thought it was actually "therapy," it wouldn't be a "speech" issue at all. But I digress.

The Third Circuit essentially ruled that the New Jersey ban on this type of "therapy" was a permissible restriction of free speech and denied the attempt by the "counsellors" who conduct this sort "therapy" to overturn the ban. The United States District Court had "sidestepped" the issue of the First Amendment Argument by labeling conversion therapy as "conduct" and not speech, which is really what it is. But the Third Circuit said that such counseling is "speech" but yet that speech is still not entitled to full First Amendment protection when it involves a licensed professional practicing a trade.

I believe that the underlying decision by Judge Frieda Wilson for the District Court was the more correct one. While the Third Circuit reached the right result, I don't think it reached it on the right basis. People (not just the young people who are most often victimized by this therapy but everyone) need to be protected from Charlatans and "quacks" offering therapeutic "snake-oil" cures, especially when those cures don't come from the pure selfishness and cynicism of the snake-oil peddler, but rather from the sinister accumulated force of organized religion lurking just behind the therapy couch.

I've said it now a dozen times in my Blog and I'll say it again. The anti-establishment clause of the Constitution is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government; it is there to protect government from the grasp of religion.

I support each person's right to believe what they wish, and to practice their faith. Until it interferes with the rights of others.

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