Maine Turns LePage on Radical Counseling Ban

Maine Turns LePage on Radical Counseling Ban

July 09, 2018

Imagine being stuck in a cycle of depression or an unhealthy relationship and not being able to get help. Well, people in 13 states don't have to imagine it. Thanks to a string of bad laws, something as simple as sitting down and talking to a counselor of your choice about your struggles with sexuality isn't allowed. And if the far-Left had its way, Maine would have been the latest to join the club. Fortunately, Governor Paul LePage (R) had other plans.

The state motto of Maine is "Dirigo" -- Latin for "I guide." And in a raging debate over Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE), the state's leader did exactly that. After watching other legislatures fall like dominos in the outrageous push to outlaw talk therapy on gender and sex issues, LePage became the first governor on either side to put his foot down. In a two-page veto announcement, the governor did what no others have had the courage to do: stood up to the activist bullies and their junk "research" about the dangers of routine counseling.

"I am vetoing LD 912 because it is bad public policy," he explained bluntly. Among other things, he rejects the idea that professionals like counselors need to be regulated beyond what they already are through their licensing requirements. Like people on both sides, he agrees that people shouldn't be abused in any way if they've "experienced sexual or romantic attraction toward an individual of the same gender." But, he goes on, as this bill is written, even a simple conversation with a therapist could be called into question.

"This so broad that licensed would be prohibited from counseling an individual even at the individual's own request. We should not prohibit professionals from counseling an individual even at the individual's own request. We should not prohibit professionals from providing their expertise to those who seek it for their own personal and basic questions such as, 'How do I deal with these feelings I am experiencing?'"

Governor LePage also warns that the bill could be "interpreted as a threat to an individual's religious liberty. Parents have the right to seek counsel and treatment from professionals who do not oppose the parents' own religious beliefs..." And, since LD 912's supporters couldn't produce any evidence that therapists were practicing the kind of radical "conversion therapy" the Left insists they are, LePage argues that what activists are "really trying to regulate are the private, consultative conversations between a licensed provider and client."

Earlier today, the Left's hopes of overriding the governor's veto fell 15 votes short of the two-thirds majority required in the state house. Our friends at the Christian Civic League of Maine were instrumental in stopping the attack that, unfortunately, continues across the country. Lately, the other side has been on the warpath to keep people from experiencing the freedom this kind of counseling can offer. If it didn't work -- transforming lives and bringing others out of bondage -- extremists wouldn't bother. But, as a growing chorus of courageous men and women have testified, it does work. As Walt Heyer explains in the Federalist, if a ban like Maine's or the one proposed in California had succeeded 30 years ago, he'd probably be dead.

"If [California's] AB 2943 were in place back in the 1990s, most likely I would have died from suicide or -- as this bill proposes -- once I embraced my life as a trans-woman, I was sentenced for life." He had access to two Christian psychotherapists who helped him walk away from his identity as Laura Jensen -- for good. "The bill's authors want to make sure the gender-dysphoric people they claim to be 'helping' have no way out, even if that's what they desperately want. Only an uncaring legislature would sign such a draconian bill into law."

"We who have come out of the lesbian, gay, or transgender lifestyle found the serenity and satisfaction we had desired all our lives," he says gratefully. "Our lives are proof of the effectiveness of therapy for some individuals, regardless of what the detractors do to disparage or ban it... If some persons have a deep desire to rid themselves of same-sex attractions, shouldn't they be allowed to try?"

Walt's opponents – in Maine and across the country -- say no. Like a lot of extremists, they don't want to admit that change is possible because it undermines the whole linchpin of the LGBT argument: that being gay or transgender isn't a choice. So, they ratchet up their misinformation machines, insisting that all counseling is torture. But, as people like Walt would tell you, the real torture is telling people who want help they can't have it.

FRC's Peter Sprigg explains plenty of reasons why Governor LePage made the right decision in his publication, "Protect Client and Therapist Freedom of Choice Regarding Sexual Orientation Change Efforts." Also, in California, the battle is still raging over AB 2943. Before the state Senate votes, make sure they've heard from you!

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

The Great SCOTUS Reveal

July 09, 2018

When the Supreme Court reconvenes this October, odds are, there will be a new face on it. Whose, we'll find out tonight. "An exceptional person will be chosen!" the president tweeted yesterday. And if Justice Neil Gorsuch is any indication, Donald Trump knows exactly how to find one.

"I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. president can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice," the president told reporters over the weekend. Americans got a glimpse of how seriously Trump takes these nominations when he set out to fill Antonin Scalia's seat. Now, with a second opportunity to put his stamp on the court, the president has a chance to go two-for-two with strict and thoughtful constructionists.

For Trump's opponents, the real heartburn isn't who the nominee is so much as what he or she represents: a return to the rule of law. As Orrin Hatch warned in an op-ed on Friday, "Democrats dream of packing our courts with activist judges who act less as impartial arbiters of the law and more as super-legislators: men and women who not only interpret the Constitution but actively work to change its meaning through their opinions." No wonder he points out, that liberals have "made a circus of confirmation hearings over the years." They want "to politicize the process because ultimately they seek political judges -- partisan allies who will uphold their constitutionally questionable legislation when it comes before the courts."

Our communication has been very clear. We anticipate the president nominating a judge who will not use the judiciary as a workbench to craft policies in the shadows of the Constitution. Instead, we expect them to work in the light of that guiding document's plain text. And based on his track record with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over the last year and a half, we have no reason to expect otherwise. The dynamic duo has spent the last several months bringing courts of every level in line with the Constitution with dozens of qualified new hires. In fact, they've been so successful at it that Donald Trump has officially confirmed more circuit court judges at this point in his term than any president in history.

That's quite a coup for McConnell, who's made it his mission to crank out as many federal and circuit court confirmations as possible. Forty-two -- and counting. And while all eyes are on the big prize, Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement, these lower court nominees are the ones who will do the lion's share of the work – 95 percent of which will never reach the Supreme Court. Scott Jennings, a strategist of McConnell's, thinks the GOP leader's strategy of playing the long game will pay off. "Laws can be changed, regulations can be wiped away," he pointed out, "but these federal judicial appointments are lifetime." For generations, he said, "we'll be talking about the Trump-McConnell courts and their impact."

The American people certainly seem to grasp the importance of this moment. In a poll just released by the Economist, 64 percent said that the next choice of a Supreme Court justice is "important to them personally" (including 78 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats). Of course, part of the reason people sense the gravity of these appointments is because every court, including SCOTUS, has gradually assumed a power it doesn't have: making the law, instead of interpreting it. President Trump's vision -- and the larger conservative movement's -- is to restore the judiciary to its limited role.

Progressives, the New York Times's David Leonhardt warns, won't like that. If they want to win on their issues, they'll "have to do so in a small-d democratic way, by winning elections." For now, most Americans will probably agree: the most important decision on SCOTUS was already made -- by voters in 2016.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Defunding Planned Parenthood: All Part of the McMaster Plan

July 09, 2018

It's an election year for South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (R), and he knows just how to energize voters who are tired of the forced partnership with the abortion industry: defund Planned Parenthood.

McMaster, who succeeded Nikki Haley when she became the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., helped shore up his conservative support heading into November with a major stroke of his pen. Exercising his veto power over a $15.7-million chunk of the South Carolina budget, he made it clear that not a cent of state money would find its way to America's biggest abortion business.

"I have stated many times that I am opposed to what Planned Parenthood is doing. The veto that I have is the most direct way to get the money that is going to [Planned Parenthood] for family planning services..." he explained. "Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. There are a variety of agencies, clinics and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women's health and family planning services without offering abortions."

Asked by a reporter if he was worried that his decision would negatively affect other health providers, McMaster fired back, "There is concern, but the big concern is Planned Parenthood using taxpayer money for abortions. I'm going to veto that every chance I get." Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood (which could easily make up the deficit by redirecting some of its $30-million midterm election spending), launched into its familiar sky-is-falling talking points.

Vicki Ringer, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, insisted that "There will be an increase in unwanted pregnancies, an increase in preventable cancers and an increase in abortions, which the governor says he wants to stop." That's interesting, since the group's latest annual report showed a 64- percent decline in cancer screenings over the last seven years -- despite raking in more revenue ($1.54 billion) than ever. And if anything, defunding Planned Parenthood should help decrease abortion, since the organization happens to be America's biggest provider of them. (For all the myth-busting facts, check out FRC's "The Real Planned Parenthood: Leading the Culture of Death.")

For months, Governor McMaster made defunding Planned Parenthood a key focus of his campaign. We salute him for living up to that promise and giving voters some pro-life progress to build on!

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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