NH Senate Passes Gag Order on Therapists, Pastors, and Others. Will Gov. Sununu Sign It? [Updated]

Diversity Speech policeYesterday, by a vote of 14-10, the New Hampshire State Senate passed HB587, a lawyer-up bill so badly written that it will not just compel speech. It will place a gag order on therapists, counselors, nurses, clergy, coaches, and anyone who might be consulted (even tangentially) for guidance on the issue of sexual attraction, even as Amended.

In fact, as amended, all it does is increase the odds of lawsuits and fat happy lawyers raking in fees.

First, here is the sidecar added at the last minute to pretend it will no longer violate anyone’s rights.

332-L:3 Non-Infringement. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to infringe on any constitutional right, including the free exercise of religion.

“Not construed” is no protection given how badly this legislation is constructed, worded, and the particulars defined.

And I think we can all agree that the free exercise of religion is no protection against the chilling and destructive nature of lawsuits which will come at the drop of a feather and at the earliest opportunity (as a warning to the others).

If you try to get around their cultural engineering, you may win in court (and you may not), but it will ruin you. This effectively silences anyone and everyone who might say or do (or sell) anything that could be construed,

“…as practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”

Shannon McGinley from Cornerstone provided some excellent testimony on this bill which the cultural engineers ignored. Well, except for the part about “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to infringe on any constitutional right, including the free exercise of religion.” They took that advice and ignored all the other dangers HB587 creates for the people of New Hampshire.

HB 587 threatens therapists with loss of professional licensure for failing to affirm the desirability of gender reassignment, even if the gender-dysphoric client explicitly does not desire to undergo transition. The bill threatens counselors who fail to affirm the desirability of same-sex attraction, even if the client wants to reduce or eliminate such attraction.

HB587 allows anyone to accuse anyone of “conversion therapy” at any time and it doesn’t even have to be the actual patient.

Would a state-authorized authority be recording the sessions and reviewing them to determine compliance? This would seem to be a violation of patient confidentiality. Additionally, who determines when words chosen cross the line into the definition of “conversion therapy?” Would there be any statute of limitations on complaints against the therapist for a particular comment or statement interpreted by someone as being a violation of HB 587?

Want to ruin someone’s career and make some quick cash off a national bookseller (or even just a local operation).

If a bookstore were to offer for sale a book, pamphlet, or magazine describing the success a therapist has had with clients wishing to resolve unwanted sexual attraction, is the bookstore a party to the provision of conversion therapy? Based on the plain language of HB 587, if even one person were to file a complaint about the publication, the bookstore owner would have to hire an attorney to defend him/herself. The bookseller could be subject to “enforcement, liabilities, and penalties as set forth in RSA 358-A.”

And no, I don’t think the bill “as amended” will protect them because, despite Sen. Fuller-Clark’s amendment, this bill will chill speech, silence speech, and compel speech.

Shannon’s closing remarks include this:

Everything about HB 587 says that clinical care is less important than gender politics.

HB587 passed the Senate yesterday and will go to the governor. Will he sign it? Will he let it become law without a signature? Or will he stand up for free speech and the rights of professionals in a state when “no one has brought forth evidence that such abuse is being committed by any practicing licensed New Hampshire professional.”

UPDATED: HB587 is cannot go to the Governor until the amended version goes back before the House.

I do not see how the awful amended version will be less popular than the worse version they originally passed but I suppose it’s possible. It is also possible for you to reach out to your reps and ask them to vote to bury this.

If it does pass the House, the question still stands. Will Governor Sununu vote to protect confidentiality and free speech or will he allow HB587 to become law?

Steve on GAL

Steve is a New Hampshire resident, blogger, and activist. A member of the 603 Alliance, NHCMP, NHRVC, LFGC, and the host of GrokTALK! Please Note: My opinions are my own and not those of my Family, employers, politicians, campaigns, or other contributors or commenters at GraniteGrok