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Federal judge refuses to block California sexual orientation change therapy ban

A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of California [official website] on Tuesday refused to issue an injunction [text, PDF] to block a pending law preventing mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with minors. Claiming that the challenge to the law is "not likely to prevail" Judge Kimberly Mueller refused the plaintiff's request allowing Senate Bill 1172 (SB 1172) [text] to go into effect on January 1. The plaintiffs claim that the law violates their right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment [text]. The plaintiffs were represented by the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel (LC) [advocacy website], which announced plans to file an emergency appeal [press release] with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] to prevent the law from taking effect.

A separate challenge to SB 1172 resulted in a temporary injunction [JURIST report] by the same court earlier in the week. That challenge, brought by the Pacific Justice institute (PJI), resulted in a temporary injunction which will allow the plaintiffs in that case to continue SOCE after the law goes into effect. PJI filed the lawsuit challenging the bill just days after it was signed [JURIST reports] into law by California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] in October. SB 1172 was approved by the California State Assembly [JURIST report] in August and the California Senate [JURIST report] in May. Supporters of the bill, including groups such as Equality California [advocacy website] and the American Psychoanalytic Association [advocacy website] assert the reason for legislation is that homosexuality is not and should not be treated as a disease, and efforts to reverse homosexuality have proven to be detrimental to minors.

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