Legal Briefs (June 2014)

NASW, through its Legal Defense Fund, joined in filing an amicus brief with other mental health organizations in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Bostic v. Rainey.

In a similar case, NASW, through its LDF, filed an amicus brief in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Obergefell, et al. v. Himes.

Each brief argues the law banning recognition of same-sex marriages creates an institutional stigma for same-sex couples.

The “avowed purpose and practical effect of these laws are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status and so a stigma on same-sex couples,” each brief argues.

In Virginia and Ohio, the respective briefs urge the courts to affirm the ruling of the lower courts, which stated that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

NASW, through its LDF, filed an amicus brief with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case King v. Christie.

This brief supports a broad consensus of responsible medical and mental health experts that believe efforts to change a child’s sexual orientation using so-called reparative therapies may cause harm to the child.

In 2013, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie signed into law a bill that prohibits New Jersey state licensed practitioners, who provide professional counseling services, from treating minors using methods of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts.

The brief notes that overwhelming consensus of contemporary mental health research supports the opinion that homosexuality is not a mental disorder in need of a “cure,” and urges the court to affirm the judgment of the federal District Court, which upheld the New Jersey law.

NASW, through its LDF, filed an amicus brief with the Wyoming Supreme Court in the case L.P. v. L.F. It involves a man who is requesting visitation rights with a child who has been treated as the man’s child for approximately 10 years. This includes being named as the child’s father on the birth certificate.

A trial court ruled that the man lacks standing to seek custody of the child because a paternity test established that he is not biologically related to the boy and was never married to the boy’s mother.

The amicus brief argues that continuity of the parent-child attachment relationship is essential to a child’s healthy development and overall well-being and supports the right of the putative father to present evidence regarding his relationship.

“Secure attachments in childhood are a necessary element to a child’s ability to develop close relationships later in life, as they shape the child’s attachment style, which in turn shapes how the child will form bonds with others,” the brief states.

The brief notes that social science research confirms that breaking a parent-child attachment bond can be devastating to a child.

It asks the court to reverse the trial court’s finding and to permit consideration of whether custody or visitation should be granted as in the best interests of the child and limiting the child from emotional harm.

These and other NASW LDF cases can be found at th Amicus Brief Database.