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Rehearing Sought On Conversion Therapy Bans

Broward County voted for ordinance on Tuesday that would ban conversion therapy for minors.
Broward County voted for ordinance on Tuesday that would ban conversion therapy for minors.

Boca Raton and Palm Beach County asked a federal appeals court Friday to reconsider a potentially far-reaching ruling that blocked bans on the controversial practice known as conversion therapy.

Attorneys for the city and county filed a petition seeking a rehearing by the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or by a panel that last month ruled local ordinances banning conversion therapy violated the First Amendment.

The ordinances barred therapists from providing treatment or counseling that is designed to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

Critics of such therapy say it harms minors who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. But a panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court, in a 2-1 decision on Nov. 20, sided with marriage and family therapists Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, who challenged the constitutionality of the ordinances.

While acknowledging the controversy of the issue, the majority of the three-judge panel said the ordinances violated the rights of therapists who want to provide such treatment or counseling.

The majority opinion overturned a lower-court decision and ordered that preliminary injunctions be entered against the ordinances. The petition filed Friday raised a series of arguments, including contending that the “majority overlooks precedent requiring, in this context, that the (appeals) court defer to factual findings of the district court unless clearly erroneous.”
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