Judges at odds on gay conversion

Federal judges issue conflicting rulings on state gay-conversion therapy ban

Two federal judges have issued contradictory rulings on whether California’s new law prohibiting gay-conversion therapy for minors—Senate Bill 1172—is constitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb ruled on Dec. 3 that the First Amendment rights of psychiatrists, psychologists and mental-health providers outweigh potential harm to teens, according to The Sacramento Bee. Shubb also disputed findings that have linked gay-conversion therapy to higher rates of depression and suicide, calling the studies “questionable and scientifically incomplete.”

In a separate case, U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled on Dec. 4 that the law does not infringe on the free-speech rights of minors or mental-health-care providers, adding that families have viable alternatives to conversion therapy.

The conflicting rulings will be resolved by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Barring a successful appeal, the law is due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.