Mat Staver and his Liberty Counsel have failed for a second time in attempting to repeal the ban on so-called “conversion” therapy for minors in New Jersey.
By a 3-0 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban did not infringe the First Amendment rights of minors and their parents to receive information and exercise religion, or the rights of parents to decide how to raise their children.
The challenge came from a 15-year-old boy known as John Doe, who claimed to suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts as he struggled with his sexual identity, and his parents, who said they had sincere religious beliefs that homosexuality was sinful and harmful.
The family plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, said their lawyer, Mathew Staver.
“It is a tragedy when people who are not in the counseling room try to dictate what the client wants to receive and what the counselor is allowed to offer,” Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a phone interview.
Signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August 2013, New Jersey’s law bans licensed counselors from trying to convert homosexual minors into heterosexuals.
The law was upheld last Sept. 11 by the same 3rd Circuit panel after counselors claimed it violated their free speech rights.
On April 8, President Barack Obama called for an end to gay conversion therapy for children, citing “overwhelming scientific evidence” that it was “neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”
The American Psychiatric Association in 1973 declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Some conservative and religious groups have said sexual orientation can be changed.
This follows three failed attempts by Liberty Counsel to overturn a similar ban in California.