Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Bad ruling for 'ex-gay' therapy is a warning to LGBTQ Americans. Trump's judges have no problem showing their biases against us.

A bad ruling for 'ex-gay' therapy courtesy of two Trump appointed judges (Barbara Lagoa - top pic and Britt Grant - bottom pic) should send a message to LGBTQ Americans. The courts may become biased against us.

Last week, courtesy of two Trump-appointed justices, there was a shamefully bad ruling with regards to ex-gay therapy and minors.

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down two local ordinances that prohibited therapies that attempt to alter the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT youth. Such therapies go by names such as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “sexual orientation change efforts” or “ex-gay therapy.” A three-judge panel on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta found that bans in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, Florida violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The 2-1 decision was written by U.S. Circuit Judge Britt Grant. Joining Grant in the majority was U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa. Both judges were appointed to the bench by President Donald Trump.  

 What makes is especially awful was how the justices reached the decision. According to Atlanta Journal Constitution, one of the justices who struck down the ban, Britt Grant:

 . . . cited a 2009 report from the American Psychological Association that found there had been a complete lack of “rigorous recent prospective research” on the practice.

But as for evidence which proved the ban was necessary, Grant took a different point of view.

According to The Slate:

 . . . multiple advocacy groups provided the court with studies documenting the harm that “conversion therapy” inflicts on children. Grant rejected this evidence as speculative. “When examined closely,” she wrote, “these documents offer assertions rather than evidence,” citing a “lack of empirical studies.” Grant concluded that America’s medical associations were really trying to impose their own pro-LGBTQ views on counselors, writing that “professional societies’ opposition to speech” cannot justify “censorship” of anti-LGBTQ therapists.

The Slate also said the judge opposing the ruling had some very crucial things to say in her dissent:

As Judge Beverly Martin, a Barack Obama appointee, noted in her dissent, Grant’s position creates a perverse quandary for the government. There are not more empirical studies of “conversion therapy” on minors because the American Psychological Association has found that such studies are “not ethically permissible.”

 . . . She listed the many “institutions of science, research, and practice” that have found conversion therapy “to pose real risks of harm on children.” These organizations include the APA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American School Counselor Association, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the World Health Organization.

According to The Slate, Grant then accused those groups of being biased and trying to shut down speech. In doing this, Grant seems to be mimicking the tactics of the religious right when it comes to pushing anti-LGBTQ distortions - i.e. cherry-picking scientific data, minimizing other scientific data which contradicts their desired conclusions, and accusing those with more credibility of being "biased" or "anti-free speech."

The fact that anti-LGBTQ tactics are coming from so-called impartial judges should send a chill down the LGBTQ community's spine. But it really shouldn't surprise us. Both Grant and Lagoa are judges chosen by Donald Trump and handpicked from the very conservative, powerful,  and anti-LGBTQ group The Federalist Society. 

Trump has been packing the courts since taking office in 2017 and a lot of the justices have been handpicked by The Federalist Society. Even after his election loss, Trump - with the help of Republican senators - have continued to pack the courts with these justices. And many of them have been ruled unqualified by the American Bar Association with some not even have yet to try cases. 

Unqualified and biased judges will be a repercussion of the Trump years which America will sooner or later have to deal with. That's an unfortunate fact we can count on.  But to the LGBTQ community specifically, this recent case involving 'ex-gay' therapy is a warning. In the past, we were able to depend on an impartial court to right the wrongs which biased legislators and political leaders inflicted on us. We had better be prepared to have a plan to now deal with biased courts because as of now, they are here.

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