The city of Tampa, Fla. has been thwarted in its attempt to tell licensed counselors what they can counsel.
The city had passed an ordinance that prohibited counselors from offering talk therapy to minors with same-sex attractions who wanted to eliminate or control these tendencies. Tampa officials thus effectively banned therapy for people who felt homosexual and didn’t want to.
Federal Judge William F. Jung issued an order in October that granted summary judgment to Liberty Counsel in its suit to overturn the Tampa ordinance, Liberty Counsel reported.
The ruling permanently strikes down the ordinance, which also imposed fines on counselors providing the forbidden counseling. Liberty Counsel represents marriage and family therapist Robert Vazzo as well as New Hearts Outreach Tampa Bay, a Christian ministry.
The court ruled that local governments do not have authority to regulate counseling because it is the prerogative of the state. The 41-page ruling reads, in part:
“There is no grant of authority by the Florida Legislature to municipalities to substantively regulation healthcare treatment and discipline.
“The City has never before substantively regulated and disciplined the practice of medicine, psychotherapy, or mental health treatment within City limits. Nor does the City possess charter or home rule authority to do so. The City Ordinance is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline. Accordingly, the Court strikes the Ordinance under the implied preemption doctrine and grants the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on Count VI.”