In 2015, Judge Peter Bariso of the Superior Court of New Jersey ordered the “gay conversion therapy” group JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) to shut down completely within 30 days. The order forbid founder Arthur Goldberg and counselor Alan Downing from engaging in any form of conversion therapy commerce in New Jersey.
The order was the endgame of a trial launched in 2012 by former clients of JONAH, which they won. Southern Poverty Law Center sought an injunction ordering the shutdown of the organization at the time of the verdict.
As it turns out, those behind JONAH completely disobeyed the court order, SPLC reports:
11 days after the permanent injunction was issued, JONAH filed articles of incorporation for “Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA),” which is essentially a continuation of JONAH. Not only does it have JONAH’s assets, leadership and core operations, but it has also maintained the same physical place of business and telephone number.
SPLC filed motion this week asking the court to enforce the order requiring the group’s domplete dissolution.
Said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the SPLC: “The court in 2015 ordered JONAH to close up shop forever, but its founders – Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk – have flouted the court order by changing JONAH’s name but not its function. JONAH’s founders continue to promote the fraudulent, harmful and dangerous practice of conversion therapy. We are asking the court, once again, to order them to cease any and all activity intended to ‘fix’ those who aren’t broken.”
During the 2012 trial, the four men recalled the disturbing, homophobic role-playing scenarios that JONAH had them participate in during their “conversion.” These included being encouraged to spend more time naked with their fathers and beat pillows meant to symbolize their mothers, among other disturbing allegations.
The shutdown order, via Box Turtle Bulletin:
1. JONAH, Inc. shall permanently cease any and all operations within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, including its educational functions, its provision of referrals and/or direct services, and operation of its websites and listservs, which it shall cause to be taken offline, provided however that it shall be permitted to maintain use of “@ ” email addresses, only for those purposes not prohibited by this Order, for one hundred eighty (180) days from the entry of this Order;
2. JONAH, Inc. shall permanently dissolve as a corporate entity and liquidate all its assets, tangible or intangible, within one hundred eighty (180) days of the entry of this Order;
3. As of the date of this Order, pursuant to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. §§ 56:8-1, et seq., Defendants are permanently enjoined from engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, “same sex attraction” or “gender wholeness,” or any other equivalent term, whether referred to as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “gender affirming processes” or any other equivalent term (“Conversion Therapy”), or advertising, or promoting Conversion Therapy or Conversion Therapy-related commerce in or directed at New Jersey or New Jersey residents (whether in person or remotely, individually or in groups, including via telephone, Skype, email, online services or any delivery medium that may be introduced in the future, and including the provision of referrals to providers, advertisers, promoters, or advocates of the same), provided however that Alan Downing shall have thirty (30) days from the date of the entry of this Order to cease the provision of Conversion Therapy to his current clients;
4. Plaintiffs’ counsel is awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses in the amount of three million five hundred thousand U.S. dollars ($3,500,000) to be paid by Defendants (the “Fee Award”) within such time as mutually agreed upon by the Parties. Plaintiffs shall submit to this Court a notice of satisfaction upon Defendants’ payment of the Fee Award.