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Orthodox Jewish counselor, ADF attorney available to media following hearing Wednesday

Related Case: Schwartz v. City of New York

WHO: Licensed psychotherapist Dr. Dovid Schwartz, ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks, and New York co-counsel Barry Black
WHAT: News conference following hearing in Schwartz v. City of New York
WHEN: Wednesday, June 19, immediately following hearing, which begins 11 a.m. EDT; please call (781) 856-2467 to book a specific interview time
WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn. Hearing will be held in Courtroom 10A South; news conference will take place outdoors on the west side of the courthouse.

NEW YORK – An Orthodox Jewish psychotherapist, his Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, and local co-counsel Barry Black will participate in a news conference following a federal court hearing Wednesday in their lawsuit against the city of New York. Dr. Dovid Schwartz, a licensed psychotherapist and member of the Chabad Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish Community in Brooklyn, asked the court in January to halt enforcement of the city’s new ordinance that violates his freedom of speech and infringes on his religious faith and that of his patients. If the court grants the request, enforcement of the law against Schwartz would be suspended while his case moves forward.

“All New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the right to private conversations, free from government control,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks, who will argue before the court Wednesday. “New York City’s attempt to regulate and censor the private sessions between an adult and his counselor directly violates the freedom of speech—a core right protected by the First Amendment. The city council’s unprecedented regulation of adult conversations threatens to stand between Dr. Schwartz’s patients and the lives they choose to pursue.”
 
In 2018, the city council adopted a law making 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.” Notably, the law only prohibits counsel in one direction—assisting a patient who desires to reduce same-sex attraction or achieve comfort with their biological sex. The law threatens increasing fines of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 for first, second, and subsequent violations. By contrast, counseling that steers a patient towards a gender identity different than his or her physical body is permitted. Unlike other existing counseling censorship laws, it is unprecedented in its reach—extending to the counseling of willing adult patients.

Over the course of his over 50 years of general practice, Schwartz has regularly encountered and served patients who want his help overcoming same-sex attraction. 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 law claims to forbid even that.

“Because of the community he serves, nearly all of Dr. Schwartz’s patients share his faith, and they seek out his counsel about issues of sexuality and family in part because his perspective is grounded in their mutual Jewish faith and shared respect for Torah teachings,” Brooks explained. “The government simply has no right to dictate the personal goals an adult pursues with his or her therapist. Because the counselor-patient relationship is a sensitive and privileged one, the city council seriously overstepped its role when it passed a law to control those conversations and impose government-approved orthodoxy on patients and their therapists.”

The lawsuit, Schwartz v. City of New York, asks the court to protect Schwartz from being forced to choose between risking severe financial penalties or self-censoring his conversation with patients in a manner that denies them the assistance they desire.

Nelson, Madden, Black LLP attorney Barry Black, one of nearly 3,400 private attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as co-counsel in the case for Dr. Schwartz and will also participate in Wednesday’s news conference.
 
  • One-page summarySchwartz v. City of New York
  • Pronunciation guide: Dovid (Duh-VEED’)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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