Written by John Mauck
Last month the U.S. Supreme Court issued a very encouraging ruling in the NIFLA case (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, dba NIFLA, et al. v. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, et al., No. 16-1140). That case ruled that pro-life pregnancy counseling centers were protected by the First Amendment from state laws compelling them to inform women where they could get abortions.
One of the collateral blessings that may emerge from that decision was the Supreme Court’s explicit statements that “professional speech,” not just ordinary speech, political speech, or religious speech, is protected by the First Amendment. Thus, any restrictions on professional speech by state law become more problematic.
In a recent commentary, Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute highlighted that the bans on reparative therapy in Illinois and a number of other states may be invalid under the standard that was articulated in the NIFLA decision. At any given time, countless young people are struggling with sexual identity or gender confusion. However, many who would like to reorient their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are not allowed to find counseling in Illinois through a licensed professional since a recently enacted Illinois law has dictated that professional sanctions can be levied against any state licensed professional (i.e., psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor, school counselor, et al.) who might offer this type of help.
Previously, Mauck & Baker challenged that law on behalf of pastors and succeeded in getting a federal judge to rule that pastors, not being licensed by the state, were exempt from the counseling ban.
At the time we filed that suit we spoke to a number of Christian psychologists who all responded with the following concerns:
- The Illinois ban on reparative therapy was wrong.
- Many people who wanted to change their sexual orientation could do so with the help of proper professional, family, and/or church support.
- Each psychologist indicated that he or she did not want to be involved in challenging this law because they could not afford to risk their license.
Much has changed since we spoke to these psychologists, particularly the following things:
- The NIFLA decision has assured the protection of “professional speech.”
- New judges have been added to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals who we feel will be quite protective of free speech rights.
- A pathway has been laid out providing anonymity for Illinois professionals that wish to challenge the ban on reparative therapy.
- Prominent Illinois pro-family organizations have agreed to raise money towards fighting the ban on reparative therapy and help locate potential plaintiffs.
- If a lawsuit is brought, there will be adequate funding to hire out-of-state experts who can testify to the harm the current law does to counselors as well as to people who cannot obtain counseling.
- We are told by multiple sources that there is a growing consensus among psychologists across the United States, including those who work extensively with and are a part of the gay/lesbian community, that sexual identity is fluid over a lifetime. There is no conclusive, research-based evidence proving that either “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” is fixed. That consensus runs directly contrary to the inflexible and static view of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ on which Illinois statute is premised.
Accordingly, Mauck & Baker has begun due diligence efforts with interested parties to see if legal steps can help the people, particularly the young people, of Illinois make informed decisions about their sexuality.
If you are a licensed professional and would like to join this effort, if you know any licensed professionals who would like to be involved please email or call the number below. Additionally, if you would like to stay informed or make financial contributions to the organization being formed, kindly contact us at email@example.com, or call 312-977-0480.
For additional inquiries, contact Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Wed, July 25, 2018
by Brittany Booth