New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm wrote about the judge’s regrettable ruling today:

Calling a California law that bans gay “conversion therapies” for minors an unconstitutional infringement on speech, a federal judge blocked the law’s enforcement late Monday.

The decision by the judge, William B. Shubb, of Federal District Court in Sacramento, was a setback for a law that has been hailed as a milestone by gay rights advocates and mainstream mental health groups that call the therapies useless at best and potentially damaging.

The law is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. Judge Shubb said his decision only applies to the three plaintiffs who had challenged the ban — two practicing therapists and an aspiring one — and until he can hold a full hearing. But his written ruling left little doubt that in his court, as he put it, “the plaintiffs are likely to succeed” and that, if his interpretation of the law prevailed in future appeals, the ban would be effectively overturned.

Gay-rights groups responded to Monday’s ruling with disappointment but expressions of confidence that curbs on the therapy would eventually prevail.

“This is the beginning of a process that we feel confident will end in our favor,” said Wayne Besen, the executive director of Truth Wins Out, a group that has campaigned against conversion therapies. “We have a powerful and incontrovertible case that reparative therapy is a dangerous practice that brazenly stands in direct opposition to standard mental health guidelines and procedures.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, argued by the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative Christian legal group, are a conservative pastor who is also a licensed family therapist, a psychiatrist who counsels minors “struggling with” homosexuality and a former recipient of such therapy who hopes to train as a therapist on sexual orientation.