Liberty Counsel Sues Over Tampa’s Ex-Gay Torture Ban

The Liberty Counsel has failed multiple times to overturn statewide ex-gay torture bans in California and New Jersey and were even smacked down TWICE by the US Supreme Court. But they’re trying yet again, this time in Tampa. Via press release:

Liberty Counsel filed suit in federal court against the City of Tampa for its adoption of Ordinance 2017-47, which prohibits licensed counselors from providing and clients from receiving counseling to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity. The ordinance imposes significant monetary fines on counselors who provide such counseling.

Liberty Counsel represents Robert Vazzo, LMFT, David Pickup, LMFT, and their minor clients and their parents. These counselors provide life-saving counsel to minors and their parents or legal guardians who desperately desire to conform their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, and identity to their religious beliefs or conscious.

The sacred trust between counselors and clients establishes a unique relationship that permits the clients to inform the counselors of their goals and receive counseling consistent with such goals. That therapeutic alliance has long been held sacred and inviolable. The City of Tampa, however, has decided to storm the office doors of mental health professionals, thrust itself into the therapeutic alliance, violate the critical privacy inherent in such a relationship, and disregard the fundamental rights of the counselor and the client.

“The Tampa law is a gross intrusion into the fundamental rights of counselors and minors, and represents government intrusion into the sacrosanct relationship between a counselor and the client,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The City of Tampa has no authority to prohibit a form of counseling simply because it does not like the religious beliefs of a particular client. Tampa’s prohibition is blatantly unconstitutional and causes harm to countless minors, and Liberty Counsel will not stand by as authoritarian members of council blatantly ignore the First Amendment,” said Staver.

More than a dozen other Florida municipalities have also banned ex-gay torture, including Miami, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Key West, Oakland Park, and Boca Raton.

  • Butch

    What’s an LMFT?

    • djcoastermark

      Lick my f**n taint? I dunno.

      • Butch

        I like your definition better.

      • Tread

        You’re not going to get banned for fucking.

      • Tawreos

        Is that an open invitation or just for Butch?

    • SkokieGuy [ChicagoAdjacentGuy]

      Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

      • Tawreos

        Licensed by whom?

        • The state.

          • Tawreos

            Someone needs to look into their licensing procedures then.

    • Karl Dubhe 2

      Liquor, Marijuana, Futons and Tomatoes.

      Puff, puff; pass.

    • jerry

      I dunno about FL, but in AL I think it’s Lawyer Man Fucking Teens…like Roy Moore.

    • Craig Howell

      Sounds like an abbreviated form of LSMFT. (And if you get that reference, you might be an old fart.)

      • Robincho

        You definitely struck THAT one lucky…

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Let me make a wild prediction: Staver & Co. will lose.

    • JCF

      How many Drumpf judges confirmed between now and then? }-p

  • Luther Kreiger

    I can’t wait to see their sterling record of losing cases continuing! But really, how much failure does it take for those bankrolling these loons to finally give it up and stop dropping money on them?

    • SkokieGuy [ChicagoAdjacentGuy]

      The more money they give to the Liberty Council, the less they have available for the purchase of members of Congress.

  • SkokieGuy [ChicagoAdjacentGuy]

    In 1999, Florida passed the Tort Reform Act. The Tort Reform Act expanded § 57.105’s authority to sanction litigants and their attorneys for frivolous litigation.

    • Chucktech

      And that’s exactly what should befall these god-addled fuckers. They should be forced to PAY. Bigly.

  • AtticusP

    What pieces of filth Mat Staver et al are.

  • Tatonka

    Shut the hell up, you lipless, toe tapping, god-bothering tool. Leave the kids alone, and go work on your own mountain of delusions.

  • Boreal
    • Tawreos

      They list quite few wins on their website, but most of them are submitted a brief, was sitting in the court room, or high-fived the winner when they saw them at the GOP’s secret gay sex club.

      • Danieruw

        The GOP has a secret gay sex club? Must be a depressing, unsexy dank basement full of tears and Russian vodka.

        • Tawreos

          Don’t forget the scents of fear guilt and shame.

  • bkmn

    Let me guess, Trump has recently appointed someone new to the federal bench in the area….

  • David J

    ………..”provide life-saving counsel to minors and their parents or legal guardians who desperately desire to conform their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, and identity to their religious beliefs or conscious.” CONSCIOUS? These folks can’t even use the correct English word in their press release…let alone their strange use of the expression “life-saving”… One wonders what the F*CK is going on in the brains of these folks… probably just another desperate attempt to raise money from the morons who support these folks.

    • -M-

      The use of “life-saving” here isn’t strange, it’s mendacious. It’s a lie they are using to muddy the issues.

  • Karl Dubhe 2

    Are they arguing that they need to convert children to heterosexuality?

    I thought that was what ‘we’ were supposed to be doing? (from their idiotic pov)

    • Chucktech

      Not only do these christian dim bulbs project their “conversion” meme onto us, it clearly is they who do the kiddie conversions to their delusional god belief. And they freely admit to it with their (age) 4-14 Window theory. Earlier than 4? Kids don’t get it it. Later than 14? If you don’t have ’em by then, they’ll laugh you right off your goddam pulpit.

  • djcoastermark

    Ah, going after Tampa, a smaller city that is still divided on the confederatesouth and LGBT rights thing. I think they chose Tampa as it has a lot of bigots in the out-lie-ing areas that will show up for hearings with their pitchforks and tiki torches.Note to matty, don’t try this across the bridge in St Pete. We might just have to bring back tar and feathering, cause ya’ know we do like our feathers and boas here.

  • Tawreos

    They are going to sue for the right to torture gay kids because Mommy and Daddy can’t handle someone finding out about their kid. If this works I am suing for the right to torture everyone over at Liberty Counsel to see if can make them turn into decent human beings.

    • David J

      No, that would be a lost cause…I’m in favor of you torturing them, don’t get me wrong, but I know that they will NEVER “turn into decent human beings” torture away all you want.

      • Tawreos

        Good to know it has the same effectiveness of gay torture

    • Robincho

      De maximis non curabit lex…

  • Boreal
    • Tawreos

      I wonder if Jesus was real how would he feel about priests sodomizing him?

      • Boreal

        I don’t know. He is a bit old for their tastes.

    • jerry

      If you actually listen to xtians, they’re always pulling something out of Jesus’ ass.

      • It’s their own asses — most of them have only a glancing acquaintance with Jesus, if any at all.

    • Joe in PA

      That’s actually The Onion disguised as The Friendly Atheist.

  • Worth making the distinction: It’s one thing for a grown adult to seek out a quack to try to change sexual orientation. Sure, as psychological medical malpractice, it ought to be outlawed on those grounds alone.

    But the majority of those in ‘sexual orientation reparation’ therapy are in fact children and teens, forced into it by their parents. These minors have no choice, no opt-out…many of them end up scarred. Others end up having to run away from home and more often than not are homeless, abused, or worse. And that’s where simple malpractice becomes actual psychological torture.

    • lizdhm

      It should be banned by state licensing boards as ethical misconduct. It’s not so much about a right to seek treatment as malpractice for a licensed professional to provide it.

  • Lizard

    Funny how they’re all about the “sacred relationship” between healthcare providers and patients while they’re torturing gay kids, but they want doctors to lie their asses off to women seeking abortions. Hypocrites.

    • Jamie_Johnson

      And here I am, holding my breath awaiting Liberty’s case against cities and states REQUIRING doctors to lie to seekers of abortions…

      • The_Wretched

        LC doesn’t need to run those cases. ALEX and other orgs have been requiring ‘patient right to know’ laws for a decade now. What do they need to know? Debunked lies about how abortions lead to suicide, breast cancer and other bad things.

  • Harveyrabbit

    Somewhat OT:

    This might be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in some time and I’ve read MANY ridiculous things…

    “Jerusalem – Popular Orthodox Singer Sticks Tape Over Eyes To Avoid Seeing Women At Concert”

  • Going for a perfect record: 0 for .

  • bkmn
    • Joe in PA


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  • mikeinftl

    Yes my city Oakland Park has a ban!

  • Tawreos

    I hope the lawyers for Tampa point out that they are admitting that prayer is useless and only by torturing someone can they make someone afraid enough to hide an essential part of their being.

  • Henry Auvil

    Tampax, FL has the most strip clubs per capita of any city in the US. Thank you for keeping your priorities in order, Mat.

    • Tawreos

      He is more worried about the loving and tender feelings he has towards gay men and has to sue to keep anyone from getting suspicious about why he talks about them all the time and why the table rises 2 inches whenever he does so.

    • Robincho

      One night, in one of those clubs, I totes got tampa’d with…

  • BearEyes

    Wow – all this talk about a sacred trust between counselor and client the state should not violate, but when that sacred trust is between a doctor and patient plus a medical procedure called abortion then, woah, the state can’t violate that sacred trust enough for liberty.

  • Gustav2

    Cut the crap, they only reason you are doing this is so the parents’ insurance companies will pick up the tap for your religious indoctrination of minors when they are the most vulnerable.

  • MT YVR


    “The Tampa law is a gross intrusion into the fundamental rights of counselors and minors…”

    So. Unhealthy, damaging practices on KIDS is totes fine, everyone should just back off. Riiiight, got it. Fine then.

    Seriously, pass the rum. Who has the rum?

    • Tawreos

      Why is the rum gone?

      • MT YVR

        Why is the rum always gone?

        • Treant
          • MT YVR

            I knew someone who used to do that with vodka. It was frightening how QUICKLY he’d get drunk.

            I mean… totally unfair. I spent HOURS getting there…

          • Treant

            The portal vein don’t give a damn.

            It also won’t throw up in case of toxicity or overdose, so I don’t advise that.

          • MT YVR

            Well according to science I should be dead like… dozens of times over. I’m an overachiever like that. 😛

            But no, I do not recommend.

            Talk about “for shit vodka”…

          • Treant

            Ditto. When I quit smoking, I moved to a vaporizer, but had to go to 22 mg per milliliter just to get any level of relief. By noon, I’d be near a fatal dose. Somehow, I not only managed, I was still jonesing…

          • MT YVR

            14 rum and cokes, 4 doubles, 4 shots, a zombie, a paralyser and … that’s when I lost count.

            Steady as rock. Freaked the HELL out of a friend. I went home at the end of all that because I got bored. lol

          • Treant

            Half a glass of May wine and I start to sing…

          • MT YVR

            I forget my age and start to dance at some point, these days. And nooo one needs to see that.


          • jerry

            Remember a few years back (this article from 2010) when the popular thing was doing shots in the eye? Stupid, and could easily cause blindness.


          • Treant

            Oh, my. Well, I do remember my freshman year of college.


          • jerry

            For me, it was all 4 years…just learned when I could party and when I had to study. We mostly drank beer, but there were some memorable (OK, so maybe I don’t remember) occasions with grain alcohol.

          • Natty Enquirer

            That’s a recipe for blackout. And serious health consequences.

          • OdieDenCO

            my roommate in the USAF did wine enemas.

          • Robincho

            Keep your fronds close, and your enemas closer…

    • Well, we’ve seen plenty of evidence about the way “Christians” think of kids.

  • Pollos Hermanos

    Better headline:

    “Liberty Counsel Files Losing Lawsuit to Fundraise from Rubes”.

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    Honey, I’m all for BDSM, but mine involves consent with an adult….yours is just gross and involves kids.

    And they call us the perverts….fake jeebus on a stick.

  • Natty Enquirer

    Mat Staver 1
    Straw Man 0

  • djcoastermark

    Matty just got out of the ship here in Tampa to do his thaaang. (of course he was out of tips, so he had to grift again.)

  • -M-

    Tampa’s outlawing fraud, quackery, and child abuse disguised as therapy.

    Also conscience is spelled conscience, and what is this same-sex identity that Liberty Counsel is opposed to?

  • Ninja0980

    This isn’t therapy, it’s torture, plain and simple.

  • I certainly hope Tampa introduces some of the horror stories in evidence.

  • i enjoy watching people i hate lose in court. please, waste some more money. lots of it. i’d even bet there are some gay lawyers willing to take it from them, quietly not announcing how fervently they want the haters to lose.

  • gaycuckhubby

    The only way I can imagine that they win is if the courts say that licensing of counselors and the monitoring of therapist rest only in the state’s hands not in the cities. It might be a ruling on jurisdiction

  • BobSF_94117

    who desperately desire to conform their unwanted same-sex attractions,
    behaviors, and identity to their religious beliefs or conscious.

    Or unconscious, I presume…

  • gaycuckhubby

    Any lawyers out there know if cities have the ability to stop a therapist who has been licensed by the state?

    • KCMC

      Usually state board certified. It’s the church counselors practicing with divinity degrees/unlicensed big other issue.

      • gaycuckhubby

        I don’t know the specifics on this Tampa bill, but most City bans including the most recent one in New York City have a special carve out that allows religious leaders to practice conversion therapy as long as they don’t make a profit. I think this case is about state licensed therapist who are making a profit.

    • The_Wretched

      Here you go again. Cities have the exact same legal powers as a State government by delegation of State power to them. If a State can put limits on a therapist to not torture their patients or to require a therapy to be shown to have neutral or better than nothing outcomes, then so can a city.

      ‘Reparation’ therapy has a death rate greater than ‘untreated’. It’s entirely legal for cities to stop it.

  • Sam_Handwich

    Allah be praised!

  • HZ81

    His religion is abusive torture, too. I am down with banning that from the public square yesterday.

  • Rex

    I wonder if people get tired of donating money to a losing cause?

  • OdieDenCO

    one has to wonder: what is at fault here? the natural attraction or the unnatural book?

  • JWC

    This malicious band of Crackpots. can just fuck off and die

  • Richard B

    Why would anybody want to be turned straight and into what goes as a Christian these days?

  • It is right and good for the state to ban forms of therapy that have been not only proven to be ineffective but also to cause lasting harm. Both are true of “ex-gay” “therapy”. The proponents of this quackery have to date never produced a study showing that it works in spite of decades of participants.

  • The_Wretched

    Liberty Council never wins – even cases that they could win were they to use ‘normal’ legal arguments. As such, i’m not all that interested in their sham court cases. Their court cases are excuses for fund raising letters and that small shop gets millions per year. It’s a disgusting scam but doesn’t have much impact on law.

    That’s very different from the Becket Fun for Religoius Hegemony who uses oligarch funding to drive a religous agenda. they farm up plaintiffs (like HL) and push in all 50 States on a concerted legal plan. They are largely succeeding much to my great distress.

  • Kevin Andrews

    Just a little history of George Alan Rekers as one of the Founder of Repairative Therapy and of the America Family Association and Family Research Council among other Missionary of Hate. and sponsors of Tony Perkins. The Boxturtlebulliten tells it best:

  • John Masters

    So, this David Pickup and Robert Vazzo, plaintiffs, practice in California and Las Vegas respectively. While Vazzo rushed out and got a license in Florida, Pickup is still in application phase. Funny thing is they were both also plaintiffs in LC’s case against the State of CA over the same thing. So, basically, they are professional anti-gay plaintiffs. And in fact, this Vazzo guy offers telephone counseling at (844) 480-6534 (he answered)…so, especially, if you live in Florida or Tampa, where he
    doesn’t have an office, why not call and ask him why he’s sticking his nose in Tampa’s business. And, you can get Mr. Pickup at 888-288-2071.

    I guess the one bit of good news is that, despite being headquartered in Orlando, Liberty Counsel couldn’t get someone in Tampa to act as their plaintiff. Or maybe they just pay these guys are professional plaintiffs.

    Also, based on the brief conversation I had with Vazzo, I suspect his issue is some personal unresolved issues (if you know what I mean).

  • Chris Baker

    Hope the court asks them for scientific proof the conversion therapy works. Maybe they can call the expert from NARTH. What was his name? Dr George …. ?

  • Pete Wascher

    who’s liberty counsel’s benefactors? they seem to have limitless funds.

  • Del Sam

    Can somebody PLEASE start an ex-radical fundamentalist conversion therapy clinic?

  • Priya Lynn

    “The sacred trust between counselors and clients establishes a unique
    relationship that permits the clients to inform the counselors of their
    goals and receive counseling consistent with such goals. That
    therapeutic alliance has long been held sacred and inviolable.”.

    Bullshit. If man went to a counselor and said “My goal is to learn how to coerce teen girls into having sex with me” that counselor would tell him to go pound sand. If a woman went to a counselor and said “My goal is to teach my teenage son to be bulimic to control his weight” the counselor would say “No way I’m doing that”.

    No counselor is obligated or has an automatic right to counsel a person to do whatever may be possible.

  • Dana Chilton

    How cleverly worded their statement is. There are already laws in place, laws where the government has “stormed the office doors”, laws created to protect against harmful behavior, malpractice, and quackery. Liberty’s twisted take on laws like this reveals who the real “authoritarian” is. I hope these poor kids whose parents are party to this suit grow up to understand they’re not broken; their parents are.

  • Gene Perry

    Amazing how little of the Liberty Council’s efforts have to do with actual liberty.