At the Thursday July 14, 2022, La Crosse City Council meeting, the Council decided to Reconsider the Ordinance that they hoped to enact last month banning conversion therapy for children under the age of eighteen. It was learned that the City Attorney, Stephen Matty, requested of a council member to have the Ordinance reconsidered. The Council did vote to reconsider and after a nearly hour long Closed Door Session the Council decided to Refer the matter for sixty days (without direction).
There was an attempt by members of the Council to strengthen the ordinance by weakening it. Strengthen it against litigation - by weakening it. There was a motion and debate to amend the Ordinance by placing in the wording, “for a fee”; thereby, making it illegal for only those who would charge a fee for this type of therapy. So in this way, La Crosse would only be violating the constitutionally protected Rights of those charging a fee. Huh? So practitioners who have college degrees and certifications and licenses from recognized and accepted Boards and/or Competent Authority would be the only ones in violation. Huh? This would also mean that parents and guardians would be disallowed to spend their own money as they see fit for services they desire for their children. Huh?
The Council needs to look at this in this way: Would they enact an Ordinance to ban Nazis, Communists, white supremacists, doctors, roofers, mechanics…, or others (there is no limit) from their constitutionally protected Rights to private and confidential conversation? I don’t think so. It’s self-evident. Yet, somehow, this issue is not self-evident? Once it becomes illegal for one identifiable segment of our society to engage in private and confidential conversation what is to stop making it illegal for other segments of our society? Are you next? Now do they understand? In America, we have Rights and they are protected by our Constitution.
The Motion to amend was defeated 7-5. So the Council did not strengthen the Ordinance by making it weaker. They then, by a 7-5 vote, without debate, Referred this for sixty days. Last month, the Ordinance did not go into effect as it was never published as the Request for Reconsideration was submitted prior to the scheduled publication date.
This will come back through the council cycle in September. The public will again have the opportunity to make their voices heard and let the Council Members and the Mayor know of their opinions on do we violate the Constitution and create a Police State or not.
The Mayor and Council Members took an Oath to Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States.
Tom Sweeney is a former City of La Crosse Council Member and co-founder of the Save Your Rights Coalition of La Crosse