(Photo Credit: from YouTube – “A Happy Day in Hell – the new New York abortion law”)
by Diane Rufino, February 6, 2019
New York has done it yet again !
The wicked place known as New York City, is once again at the center of controversy.
— First, its strict gun-control law (no guns, even those lawfully-owned, obtained, and registered, are allowed out of the owner’s home, unless on those rare occasions he or she is traveling to and from one of 7 shooting ranges) has been challenged as violating the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case in its fall session (New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York).
— Second, the state legislature passed, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on the 46th anniversary of Roe. v. Wade (January 22, 2019), a late-term abortion bill that is would permit a woman to kill her unborn child up until the time of its birth for essentially any reason at all.
— And now, a New York City ordinance that was adopted last year which regulates how therapists can counsel patients who have unwanted same-sex attractions or have gender identity issues (you won’t believe which approach they are forcing therapists to take!) is being challenged in court. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the same legal advocacy group who represented Christian baker Jack Phillips in his case against the state of Colorado for punishing him and shutting down his cake-design business because he declined to design a cake for a same-sex couple on genuinely and strongly-held religious grounds, has agreed to take the case against New York City.
Yes, folks, we’re not in Kansas anymore !!! (A metaphor, of course, because New York has never been Kansas). I’m wondering if New York City can even be recognizable anymore as being part of this free nation called The United States of America. How can one part of the country deny citizens so many traditional, and constitutionally recognized rights?
The government doesn’t belong in a person’s bedroom, it doesn’t belong in the conversation between parent and child, it doesn’t belong in one’s head as one forms the conscience he or she hopes to live by, it doesn’t belong by the jewelry box where an individual decides whether to wear a cross necklace to school or to work, it doesn’t belong in a hospital forcing a doctor who believes in the sanctity of life to perform an abortion, it doesn’t belong in the decisions of a business owner forcing him or her to design and create messages that offend his or her sincerely and firmly-held religious beliefs, it doesn’t belong in the abortion clinic preventing a doctor from giving his patient as much information and access to information as possible to help her chose life instead of the death of her unborn, and it doesn’t belong in a therapist’s office.
But a new New York City ordinance puts the government squarely in that position, censoring what therapists are free to say as they work with their patients. The New York City Council adopted this ordinance in 2018 making it illegal, under threat of substantial fines, for any person to provide paid services that help people work through unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion over gender identity. Under this law, a counselor is free to help a patient explore, develop, or gain comfort with same-sex attractions and to do the same with almost any gender identity imaginable. But, the law prohibits a counselor from assisting patients who wish to reduce same-sex attraction or achieve comfort in the gender identity that matches their physical body. The fines include $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for any violations after that.
This new ordinance is an incredibly, and frustratingly, one-sided law.
The disturbing truth is that many states have already adopted similar laws censoring what therapists can say when working with minors. Such a law is termed “Law Banning Conversion Therapy.” Specially, such a law imposes upon a therapist or psychotherapist, a complete ban on any therapy efforts intended or designed to counsel a patient against changing their sexual orientation or their gender or expression of gender. They can only counsel such a patient into changing their sexual orientation or their gender or going forward with a particular expression of gender (whatever that means). Again, up until this point, all the states that have passed such a ban on conversion therapy have done so specifically when the patient is a minor. These states include: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. Certain counties in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have adopted such bans, and one county in Arizona has done so.
All of the bans mentioned above, again, are limited to such therapy for minors. But New York City’s ban, adopted in 2018, extends to adults as well.
New York City’s new ordinance is, by far, the most far-reaching and intrusive of conversion therapy bans, as it reaches in to censor what can be said in an intensely private and voluntary counseling conversation between two adults. It harms therapists because it chills their right of free speech and the right to provide their patients an objective course of treatment. And it harms patients by taking away from them options that are consistent with their religious beliefs. Often patients will seek out particular therapists because they want guidance that is consistent with those beliefs. For example, Christians may seek out Christian therapists.
New York City’s law dares to substitute the government’s preferred course of treatment with that of the trained professional. It is government coercion.
For these very reasons, Dr. Dovid Schwartz, a licensed psychotherapist and member of the Lubavitcher Orthodox Jewish Community in Brooklyn, has decided to challenge this ordinance. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has filed a lawsuit on his behalf.
The ADF explains on its website:
Dr. Schwartz regularly serves patients who want his help changing or overcoming same-sex attraction. The majority of Dr. Schwartz’s clients share his faith and often desire to experience opposite-sex attraction so they can marry, form a natural family, and live consistently with their Orthodox Jewish faith. These are beliefs about human sexuality and the possibility of change that are shared not only by many Jews, but also by many Christians and Muslims.
The government must respect their freedom to discuss those beliefs, and pursue those goals.
That discussion is exactly what Dr. Schwartz offers his patients. In his psychotherapeutic services, Dr. Schwartz simply listens to his patients, talks with them, and offers suggestions. And as a result of Dr. Schwartz’s services, a number of patients have been able to work through their issues and have gone on happily to pursue and achieve their personal goals.
The ADF continues:
Dr. Schwartz should not be forced, in the course of those very private discussions, to be used by the government as a tool to impose the viewpoint on human sexuality that the New York City Council prefers. And, even beyond that, the government has no business telling people what personal goals they can or can’t pursue. If a man wants to marry a woman and have a family, that’s his choice. The government cannot keep him from pursuing that goal simply because they disagree with it.
The bottom line is that all Americans, secular and religious, deserve the right to private conversations with the trusted counselors they choose, free from government censorship.
The people of New York City may want their overpopulated, bustling metropolitan city to become a freak show and a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, but government has no right to prefer it or to encourage or facilitate it.
Sarah Kramer, “New York City is Censuring Conversations Between Psychologists and Their Patients,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 24, 2019. Referenced at: https://adflegal.org/detailspages/blog-details/allianceedge/2019/01/24/how-new-york-city-is-censoring-conversations-between-psychologists-and-their-patients?sourcecode=10003253&id=3
Rev. V. Gene Robinson, “Homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah,” On Faith, December 8, 2010. Referenced at: https://www.onfaith.co/onfaith/2010/12/08/homosexuality-in-sodom-and-gomorrah/9051
New York Reproductive Health Act of 2019, full text – https://www.news10.com/news/local-news/full-text-read-the-full-text-of-the-reproductive-heath-act/1718439748
Mark Joseph Stern, “The Supreme Court is Preparing to Make Every State’s Gun Laws Look Like Texas’,” SLATE, January 22, 2019. Referenced at: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/01/supreme-court-new-york-gun-case-heller.html
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, Opinion of the Appeals Court for the 2nd District (2018) – https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1890169.html
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, Opinion of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (2015) – https://cases.justia.com/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2013cv02115/409843/56/0.pdf?ts=1423217864
Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Will Review New York City Gun Law,” New York Times, Jan. 22, 2019. Referenced at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/us/politics/supreme-court-guns-nyc-license.html
Photo Credit: from YouTube – “A Happy Day in Hell – the new New York abortion law” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjN1_NTCDpY