The following comes from a Feb. 2 email sent by Alan, one of the defendants in the case between Jonah, a Jewish organization ministering to those with same-sex attraction, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
I am writing today with an urgent request for your fasting and prayers this weekend and in the week to come. We are at a critical point in the court case. The judge will be making decisions that are fundamental, not only regarding whether or not we go to trial, which is pretty much assumed at this point, but more importantly regarding limitations that will be placed on our attorneys during the anticipated trial that will make our defense far more difficult. The details of what happened are as follows.
I spent Friday morning with Arthur Goldberg, Elaine Berk, and our attorneys Charles LiMandri and Mike Laffey. We were in court with two of the five plaintiffs and fourteen of their attorneys. We were there to hear the judge determine who amongst the plaintiffs and defendants expert witnesses would be allowed to testify in the trial, currently scheduled for April. The result of today’s ruling is that the judge has denied our motion (the defendants) to exclude their (the plaintiffs) expert witnesses and has taken under advisement the plaintiffs motion to deny the defendants expert witnesses the right to testify at trial. The judge expects to rule on the plaintiffs’ motion by next Thursday when we will be back in court so the judge can hear oral arguments around two additional motions one from the plaintiffs for partial summary judgment and one from the defendants for summary judgment. The judge sent some very clear messages today in his ruling and statements.
– This case will be tried as a simple and straightforward consumer fraud action
– The judge does not appear to see this case as impacting freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and seems to want to avoid any “politicization” of the issues
– That the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual) and the opinion of mainstream mental health organizations regarding homosexuality is definitive and carries the weight of scientific fact, even if those statements were based more on political pressure than scientific proof. We will not be allowed to litigate the validity of the APA’s and other organizations positions
The most significant issue that has come out of yesterday’s hearing and that will also be addressed in next week’s hearing is the contention on the part of the plaintiffs that since the majority of mental health and medical organizations have said that homosexuality is not “disordered”, therefore to say or even imply that about homosexuality should be considered fraudulent speech and thus a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. This ruling, if it goes in favor of the plaintiffs, will have a major impact on our case and perhaps more importantly on anyone who holds an opinion around homosexuality that runs contrary to the opinion held by the APA, AMA, ACA, etc . . .
While we are confident that we can show that statements describing homosexuality as a mental disorder or illness were not made by the defendants, or were taken out of context, a ruling favoring the plaintiff’s motion would nonetheless make the job of disproving consumer fraud much more difficult as it might even impact what our fact witnesses, who have benefited from this work, will be able to say in their testimony. More importantly, such a ruling will set the precedent that can and will be followed by other courts and legislatures to inhibit the work of other individuals and organizations.
People Can Change / Journey into Manhood came up again during yesterday’s hearing, in that the plaintiff’s see Jonah and PCC as one in the same. Up to this point we have no indication that the judge will prevent them from establishing that connection in the minds of the jurors. It isn’t a far stretch to see how other organizations like Northstar, and even religious organizations could ultimately be impacted by the direction that this ruling is currently headed, where to express an opinion that runs contrary to “mainstream” thinking is viewed as consumer fraud.
So as I said at the outset of this email, I am writing today to ask if you would keep us in your prayers and make our cause a part of your fast this weekend. We are deeply in need of G-d’s intervention that somehow He will influence the judge’s thinking and not let this attack on free speech and freedom of choice go any further.
– Please pray for our attorneys who are valiantly fighting this battle on all of our behalf, despite limited time and resources. They are not unlike the army of Gideon who went up to battle against the Midianites (Judges 7) with a small force and the power of G-d behind them. Please pray that G-d shows his hand soon.
– Please pray that the judge will let our experts testify.
– Please pray that the judge will not make this incredible leap that would make stating an opinion that is not endorsed by the DSM fraudulent speech.
– Please pray for our cause and the men and women whom we serve, who want and need the freedom to work out their internal conflicts in the way that honors their beliefs and values.
The judge could have ruled on the motion to exclude our witnesses yesterday. We believe he was ready to do so and yet he hesitated and deferred his decision. Were the arguments of our attorneys so compelling? We think they were. Did he need to find more solid legal precedent? We think he did. Does he need to consult with colleagues? Perhaps and we hope so that he might hear opinions that will increase his options in carrying out justice. Was the spirit of G-d present and working on his conscience? We can only hope, but we do know that like Gideon, we are not fighting this battle alone.
Though the court was adjourned yesterday, the work of convincing the judge is not over. Please fast and pray that a miracle will occur, that the Judge will be blessed with wisdom and discernment as he grapples with this decision and of course for the will of G-d to be accomplished. Thank you for your prayers and on-going support and for fighting alongside us in this battle.