SAN FRANCISCO - Two federal judges in California have arrived at opposite conclusions on whether the state's first-of-its-kind law prohibiting licensed psychotherapists from trying to change the sexual orientations of gay minors violates the Constitution. The measure remains clear to take effect Jan. 1.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller on Tuesday refused to block the law after concluding that opponents who have sued in her Sacramento court to overturn it were unlikely to prove the ban on conversion therapy violates their civil rights.
The opponents argued the law would make them liable for discipline if they merely recommended the therapy to patients or discussed it with them. Mueller said they did not show that they were likely to win, so she wouldn't block the law.
Mueller issued her decision in a case filed by four counselors, two families, a professional organization for practitioners, and a Christian therapists group. It came half a day after a colleague, U.S. District Judge William Shubb, handed down a somewhat competing ruling in a separate lawsuit.
Calling the First Amendment issues compelling, he told the state to temporarily exempt three people named in the case before him - two mental-health providers and a former patient studying to practice the therapy.
Mathew Staver, chairman of the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, appealed Mueller's decision to the Ninth Circuit appeals court.
The law states that therapists and others who use "sexual orientation change efforts" on clients under 18 would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and face discipline by licensing boards.