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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Reporters against freedom

Meet Steve Sebelius, a Statehouse reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal who apparently lobbies for legislation on the side. He used his column today to lobby legislators for passage of Senate Bill 353,  a bill that would restrict Christians from acting on their belief that homosexuality, like adultery, is a sin.

Hey legislator, you want favorable publicity in the Las Vegas Review-Journal? Better not cross Steve Sebelius.

From his column today, headlined: "No reason to oppose ban on anti-gay therapy":
What’s the holdup with Senate Bill 353, anyway?
That bill, sponsored by state Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, would ban what’s called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy for people younger than 18, basically a psychological assault intended to turn a gay person into a straight one. It’s been widely discredited by mental health professionals, but it still happens. The bill had a hearing back on April 6, but it hasn’t moved since.
It’s not the opposition: Only one witness opposed it, one who’s known for somewhat exotic testimony. In this instance, the word salad ranged from musings about where the Regional Transportation Commission puts bus stops to preferences for red apples over yellow.
Meanwhile, the bill was supported by a range of groups, from the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada to the National Association of Social Workers Nevada chapter to the Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates. Nationally, conversion therapy is opposed by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American School Counselor Association and the National Association of Social Workers.
So, what’s the holdup?
It’s not the votes. The chairman of the Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee, James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said of conversion therapy, “It seems rather barbaric.” Fellow committee member Patricia Farley, R-Las Vegas, seemed amenable to banning the practice in her questions to Parks. And two of the committee’s Democrats, Sens. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, and Patricia Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, are both co-sponsors of the bill.
So assuming Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, is in favor, even if the two remaining Republicans on the committee voted no, the bill would still pass on a 5-2 vote and head to the Senate floor.
So, what’s the holdup?
It’s not the deadlines. The bill was granted a waiver by legislative leaders back on April 10, not coincidentally the deadline for bills to pass out of their first committees. With that waiver, the bill could be passed at any time through the end of the session.
So, what’s the holdup?
It’s not legal issues. California in 2012 passed a ban on conversion therapy, which was challenged in court. Plaintiffs contended the law violated the free speech rights of practitioners and of those seeking treatment. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban in August 2013, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal in June 2014.
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a second case against conversion therapy arising over a New Jersey law that bans the practice, signed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2013. The lawsuit also raised free speech issues, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.
Those decisions mean bans on conversion therapy have been upheld in both states that have passed them.
So what’s the holdup?
I am not privy to the inner workings of the Nevada Legislature, but I am familiar with the workings of the Constitutional Convention which dextracted a promise to add the following amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The 9th Circuit is flat-out wrong.

Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Mental health experts? They give you today's conventional wisdom in their occupation. A half-century ago they called homosexuality a mental disorder. Who knows what they will say 50 years from now.

Increasingly reporters oppose freedom, and they do so at their own peril. The First Amendment indeed does protect conversion therapy, just as it protects hate speech, just as it protects the right to lobby without registering with the state.

Which is what he is doing.


  1. I note those in favor of the bill all set of my alarm: Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!

  2. He's also using the bandwagon appeal.

  3. Too often these days the SCOTUS is unable to discover a Constitutional penumbra that protects the free speech and religious rights guaranteed to Americans by the First Amendment. But don't worry, the Constitutional emanations that allow men to marry men, women to marry women, and mothers to kill their pre-born children in the nation's Abortion Holocaust shine as brightly as ever in the eyes of our esteemed Justices.

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