A coalition of Illinois pastors has said that they will, on Aug. 11, file suit against the state of Illinois to challenge its law prohibiting so-called "conversion therapy" for minors.
The Youth Mental Health Protection Act, which was sponsored in the House by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and in the Senate by state Sen. Daniel Biss, was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner in Aug. 2015. The law forbids mental health providers from engaging in therapeutic practices aimed at changing the sexual orientation of a minor.
The legal challenge will come from a coalition of clergy calling itself Pastors Protecting Youth. Plaintiffs include Steven Stultz, pastor of Nu-Church Apostolic Ministries in East Garfield Park and Arthurine Wilkinson, pastor of Christ Worship Center International in South Holland.
"The suit maintains that the ban unconstitutionally restricts a young person's right to make personal choices regarding his or her own choice of sexual identity, as well as the pastors' right to free speech and the exercise of religion," said an Aug. 10 statement. A press conference is scheduled for Aug. 11 at the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago.
John Mauck of the law firm Mauck & Baker, which specializes in church-based litigation, is lead attorney. On August 26, 2015six days after the passage of the Youth Mental Health Protection Acta Mauck & Baker attorney told the anti-gay American Family Association's OneNewsNow website that his firm was willing to take on a pro bono case challenging the law.
"It's written broadly enough to put at risk not only licensed counselors but also those who are in commerce," attorney Noel Sterret told OneNewsNow. "For instance, if you have an unlicensed counselor or even a pastor who charges for counseling fees, they may be subject to this law."
"Fundamentally, this isn't surprising," said Cassidy. "In every state where we've had this kind of law, they've challenged it, and every time, they've lost. So we're ready."
Numerous psychiatric and medical professional associations have said conversion therapy doesn't work, and can lead to further psychological damage to a patient. An American Psychiatric Association position statement said, "Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or 'repair' homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of 'cures' are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, 'reparative' therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, [the American Psychiatric Association] recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm."
The OneNewsNow article is at bit.ly/2bgx6e8 .