Court judgment gives legal team fees for fighting Florida's 1st Amendment violations

April 8, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A court ruling is delivering legal fees to Liberty Counsel, which successfully fought on behalf of several plaintiffs against Florida city bans on ordinary talk therapy for minors who have unwanted same-sex attractions.

The plaintiffs also have been awarded damages.

The court earlier ruled that such limits violate the First Amendment.

Now Liberty Counsel, which won the cases Otto v. Boca Raton and Vazzo v. Tampa that involved the government censorship of counselors who were asked to provide "minor clients with help to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion," said it is being paid.

It had represented Drs. Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton in their challenge to the censorship rule by Boca Raton and Palm Beach County disallowing that counselors' speech.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously struck those governmental rules as being content and viewpoint based, and violation the Constitution.

Liberty Counsel said, "According to the judgment, Palm Beach County will financially compensate Dr. Otto $50,000 and Dr. Hamilton $50,000 for damages on all of their claims for relief. The city of Boca Raton will also compensate Dr. Otto $50,000 and Dr. Hamilton $25,000.

Liberty Counsel was awarded its fees and costs, for handling this case and another similar case, of about $950,000.

"These victories set a precedent that minors who are struggling with gender confusion can get the help they need from counselors who are free from political censorship," explained LC founder Mat Staver. "Let this be a warning to any government that has not repealed similar counseling bans."

WND reported earlier that the issue is a campaign by pro-LGBT activists across the nation that seeks to censor certain counseling viewpoints.

Their scheme allows counselors to encourage the LGBT lifestyle, but bans any therapy that seeks to support people who want to leave the LGBT lifestyles.

Those who leave the lifestyle, of course, undermine the entire movement which is based on the ideology that people are "born that way."

The ruling from the 11th Circuit in the Florida case blew up that argument.

Liberty Counsel said another, related case, Vazzo v. City of Tampa, also was resolved in favor of free speech.

It was in late 2019 that U.S. District Judge William F. Jung gave Liberty Counsel a summary judgment in its case seeking to invalidate the Tampa ordinance. That ultimately was affirmed at the appeals level.

The judge, at the time, criticized the use of the term "conversion therapy," which critics of counseling have used.

The judge then said the ordinance "bars therapy within the city by medical doctors and mental health professionals that seeks to assist a minor patient in a goal to change gender expression or to change sexual orientation/attraction. These two subjects are separate and distinct, but related. The cases have generically referred to these two subjects as 'SOCE' or sexual orientation change efforts. The ordinance uses the term 'conversion therapy.' Neither term is entirely accurate."


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