TALLAHASSEE -(News Service of Florida)-- A divided federal appeals court Friday struck down measures passed in Palm Beach County and the city of Boca Raton that blocked the controversial practice known as “conversion therapy,” saying the prohibitions violated the First Amendment.
A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, sided with marriage and family therapists Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, who challenged the constitutionality of the county and city ordinances.
The ordinances barred therapists from providing treatment or counseling that is designed to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity. Critics of such therapy say it harms minors who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
While acknowledging the controversy of the issue, the 27-page majority opinion said the ordinances violated the First Amendment rights of therapists who want to provide such treatment or counseling. The dissenting judge wrote that the county and city “have validly identified a compelling government interest in protecting minors from a harmful medical practice.” The two judges in the majority were appointed by President Trump; the dissenting judge, by former President Obama.
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