NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - New York's City Council made a costly mistake in attempting to ban a Jewish psychotherapist from helping people struggling with same-sex attraction.
After Dr. Dovid Schwartz won a $100,000 settlement out of court, Schwartz' legal representative, Senior Counsel Roger Brooks at the nonprofit group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), explained on Tuesday how the ban negatively impacted taxpayers.
"New York City directly violated our client's freedom of speech by trying to regulate and censor private sessions between an adult and his therapist," Brooks stated.
He emphasized the cost to local taxpayers:
While the city eventually saw the writing on the wall and reversed course, it needlessly cost the taxpayers of New York tens of thousands of dollars for enacting its unconstitutional policy in the first place, because Dr. Schwartz was forced to go to court to protect his rights. Other cities should not repeat the same error.
Brooks told Church Militant that Schwartz wanted nothing more than for the law to be repealed and his attorneys' fees paid.
"Dr. Schwartz was concerned with making sure his freedoms were protected and that he would be able to continue his work serving his community," said Brooks.
The settlement was a second victory for Schwartz. It was Schwartz' legal challenge that persuaded the City Council in 2019 to repeal the law that made it illegal for any person to provide services for a fee that "seek to change a person's sexual orientation or seek to change a person's gender identity to conform to the sex of such individual that was recorded at birth."
Former City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a close ally of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and co-founder of the Council's Progressive Caucus, sponsored the restrictive law. It was one of her last acts before term limits forced her out of office.
The law was especially unjust because it prohibited counseling in only one direction. Counselors were not allowed to help individuals with same-sex attraction, but they were allowed to counsel for changes in gender identity.
The lawsuit never saw a courtroom. The case was filed in January 2019 and in less than six months the City Council repealed the law, recognizing that it would never survive a legal gavel.
The ADF statement humanized the kinds of patients who came to Schwartz for help.
Because of their religious beliefs and personal life goals, clients who seek his counsel often desire to experience opposite-sex attraction so they can marry, form a natural family and live consistently with their Orthodox Jewish faith. A number of patients have pursued and achieved those goals with the aid of his psychotherapeutic services.
Schwartz uses no techniques in working with his patients other than listening and talking — yet the 2018 law claimed to forbid even that.
Arthur Goldberg, co-founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) ran afoul of similar prejudices against reparative therapy. In 2015, a New Jersey court shut down his nonprofit dedicated to helping people get rid of unwanted same-sex desires, ruling that it falsely promised to "cure" clients of homosexuality.
Goldberg expressed his support for the settlement agreement between Schwartz and the New York City Council.
He told Church Militant, "I'm delighted Dr. Schwartz won his settlement. I'm pleased that ADF and other pro-family lawyers will be compensated for their work."
Goldberg, on the other hand, has been ordered to pay $3 million in attorneys' fees in his battle against the Southern Poverty Law Center. The 80-year-old has mortgaged the home he has lived in for 45 years in order to finance an appeal of the court order.
Donations in support of Goldberg's appeal can be made here.