Update: Another federal judge in a different lawsuit over California's gay conversion therapy ban does not grant an injunction to block the law from taking effect. More after the jump.
When California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the first ban on gay conversion therapy in the United States, gay activists across the country rejoiced. On Monday, however, a federal judge put that historic legislation on hold — at least for the plaintiffs in his case.
Introduced by state Senator Ted Lieu of Los Angeles, the law particularly stood out because it banned conversion therapy for minors so parents couldn't force their gay sons and daughters into treatment.
But U.S. District Judge William Shubb found that SB 1172 may infringe upon gay conversion therapists' First Amendment rights — and signed an injunction to block the enforcement of the ban only for the three plaintiffs in his case. A federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the law was filed in October by three therapists who are represented by the Christian legal group called the Pacific Justice Institute.
In a nutshell, gay conversion therapy attempts to turn gay folks into straight folks — and there have been horror stories over the years of people going through such things as shock treatment.
Conversion therapy has also come under fire in New Jersey, where a group of gay men have recently sued a gay conversion therapist.
UPDATE, 3 p.m.: Today, in a different lawsuit over the gay conversion therapy ban in California, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller did not grant an injunction to block the law from taking effect in January. The ruling has caused some confusion, so here's how things have played out.
There are two separate lawsuits to overturn California's gay conversion therapy ban. One lawsuit is being handled by Shubb, the other by Mueller. Shubb granted an injunction ONLY for the three plaintiffs in that case, according to California Attorney General spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill. Mueller refused to block the law in her case.
As a result, says Ray Sotero, spokesman for state Senator Ted Lieu, the gay conversion therapy ban will still go into effect. Gledhill backs up Sotero.
“The net effect” of the rulings, says Gledhill, is “the ban will be in place, except for the three plaintiffs” in Shubb's case.
Something could change between now and January, says Gledhill, but for now nearly all gay conversion therapy is banned in California. Sotero says Lieu is “hopeful that both court cases will finished before the end of the year.”
The federal court system doesn't often work that quickly, but Sotero strongly believes that can happen. Gledhill says it's a possibility, but wouldn't be surprised if it took longer to resolves the two cases.
Interestingly, Mueller is an Obama appointee while Shubb was appointed by President George H.W. Bush.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.