For the second time in two days, a federal judge in California has issued a decision on the state’s new law prohibiting licensed psychotherapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of gay minors (those under the age of 18).
According to the Associated Press, US District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued a ruling on Tuesday evening that will allow the ban on conversion therapy to take effect on 1 January 2013.
Her ruling came in a lawsuit filed by four therapists, two families, a professional organisation for practitioners and a Christian therapists’ group who are seeking to overturn the law.
Mathew Staver, chairman of the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, responded by saying he planned to appeal Mueller’s decision and seek an emergency injunction to keep the law on hold until its status is determined.
At the start of the week, Mueller’s colleague, US District Judge William Shubb, handed down a different ruling. He granted a request by two mental health providers and a former patient to be immune from the law on grounds that it may inhibit their 1st Amendment rights of free speech.
He also dismissed suggestions that such therapies can put young gay people at risk of suicide or depression saying that such claims are from “questionable and scientifically incomplete studies.”
It is rare that two federal judges on the same district bench reach opposite conclusions on the same issue and analysis believe a higher court may have to get involved to settle the dispute.
“If two district court judges come out opposite ways, ultimately the 9th Circuit is going to have to resolve it,” said UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.