Last year, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed Senate Bill 1028, also known as the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, into law after it was passed overwhelmingly by the state Legislature.
Christopher Doyle, a professional counselor who is licensed to practice in Maryland, filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland last Friday against Hogan and state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.
In the lawsuit, Doyle argued that the law violates the freedom of speech and freedom of religion rights of both he and his clients.
“SB 1028 prohibits counseling to minors seeking to eliminate, reduce, or resolve unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity by licensed professionals, which is causing immediate and irreparable harm to Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s clients,” read the lawsuit’s introduction.Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the law firm representing Doyle, said in a statement released on Monday that he believed the Maryland law “is unconstitutional and causes harm to counselors and clients in Maryland.”
“Every person should have access to the counselor of their choice. No government has the authority to prohibit a form of counseling simply because it does not like the religious or moral beliefs of a particular counselor or client,” said Staver.SB 1028 was introduced in February 2018 and passed in the Senate by a vote of 34-12 and then in the House by a vote of 95-27.
Debate over the proposed legislation struck a personal nerve as Delegate Meagan Simonaire voted for the bill, while her father, Senator Bryan Simonaire, voted against it.
“The definition is so expansive this bill could revoke someone’s license and livelihood by a simple conversation,” Bryan Simonaire, told The Baltimore Sun. “I wonder if Jesus would have been banned if he had been licensed in Maryland.”