Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone of the Middle District of Florida has recommended that a preliminary injunction be issued in favor of conversion therapy practitioners challenging a Tampa ordinance banning juvenile conversion therapy. The decision rests with U.S. District Court Judge Charlene Vanessa Edwards Honeywell, an Obama appointee.
Sansone determined that the ban constituted a free speech violation in spite of the fact that conversion therapy is professional conduct. In 2012 there were two California cases similar to this; Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown. David Pickup is also a plaintiff in the Tampa case along with Robert Vazzo.
The judge in Welch v. Brown issued an injunction blocking the California law. The judge in Pickup v.
Brown refused to issue an injunction. The two cases were consolidated for appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit overruled the lower court in Welch, reversing the injunction and upholding the California ban. In 2014 the Supreme Court declined to review the case.
The hate group Liberty Counsel represents the plaintiffs in Vazzo v. Tampa. Mat Staver has declared a “Counseling Ban Victory” in an email to supporters. His self-congratulations are premature. The next thing to happen is that both sides will file briefs in support of opposition to the magistrate judge’s recommendations. That will be followed by oral argument before the judge reaches a decision. That is going to take another three months or so.