A federal court has rejected an attempted legal challenge to a Washington state law that bans conversion therapy.
In 2018, the state of Washington signed into law a ban on licensed counselors helping underage clients to "eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions to individuals of the same sex." Any attempt to do so would lead to the individual being penalized with a $5,000 fee, suspension, and permanent loss of their license.
A family therapist named Brian Tingley filed a lawsuit in May 2021 in partnership with Alliance Defending Freedom, arguing that the ban violated his free speech and religious freedom. "Washington state seeks to insert itself into the privacy of Plaintiff's counseling room and censor his discussion and exploration of certain ideas with his young clients," Tingley's complaint argued.
Tingley also argued that the specific language of the law was "dangerously vague" and that it violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
US District Judge Robert J. Bryan issued an order on Monday against Tingley, denying the counselor's claim that this was a violation of his religious right. Rather, "The Washington Conversion Law does not restrain the dissemination of information. It prohibits a licensed therapist from engaging in a specific type of conduct." Bryan states that "Plaintiff is free to express and exercise his religious beliefs; he is merely prohibited from engaging in a specific type of conduct while acting as a counselor."
In response to Bryan's order, ADF legal counsel Roger Brooks told the Christian Post that "Washington's counseling censorship law targets people of faith and threatens to stand between Brian's clients and the personal counseling goals they choose to pursue with his help."
Brooks said that ADF intends to appeal this decision and "continue to defend the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live, work and speak according to their deeply held beliefs without fear of punishment."