Two Los Angeles-based, licensed therapists — who support conversion therapy and made a failed attempt to overturn California’s ban on it — have sued the city of Tampa, which has outlawed the dangerous and discredited practice for minors.
‘PRAY THE GAY AWAY’
Conversion therapy — which has been called “Pray the Gay Away,” lampooned on “South Park” and outlawed by several states — is a disproved therapy method intended to change the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of LGBT people. It is grounded in the belief that being LGBTQ is abnormal and wrong — which we all know is bullshit.
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CONVERSION THERAPY ADVOCATES
Robert Vazzo and David Pickup, the plaintiffs, have cited an alleged First Amendment violation in their lawsuit, which was filed in December. Though Vazzo is a licensed therapist in Florida, his offices are located in Las Vegas and Culver City. Pickup, who is not licensed in Florida, has offices in Dallas and the Los Angeles area.
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HISTORY OF LOSING
The Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as an anti-LGBTQ hate group and filed the lawsuit on behalf of Vazzo and Pickup, has a track record of losing when it has challenged conversion therapy bans across the country.
In 2012, Liberty Counsel challenged California’s ban, but it was upheld by a federal appeals court, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Vazzo and Pickup also are losers — They were plaintiffs in the California challenge.
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Liberty Counsel was handed another loss when it challenged New Jersey’s conversion therapy ban, which the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand on two occasions.
Last month, Equality Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a motion requesting inclusion as defendants alongside Tampa, which would allow the social justice groups to help the city defend their ban in court.
Liberty Counsel filed a motion opposing their request, and Equality Florida responded that they have a direct and unique interest in the case because its mission includes efforts to enact laws that protect LGBTQ youth from harmful and discriminatory treatment.
The judge could make a ruling on the motion within 60 days.
Liberty Counsel is known for filing litigation opposing the expansion of LGBTQ equality – from defending anti-LGBTQ discrimination in businesses to fighting marriage equality.