American Scene: Ban on gay change therapy faces first legal test

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

SACRAMENTO — A federal judge is considering whether to block a first-of-its kind California law that prohibits licensed therapists from counseling gay minors on how to become straight.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento held a 50-minute hearing on the issue Friday and said she intended to issue a written ruling this week.

Four counselors and two sets of parents who say their teenage sons have been helped by psychological efforts to change their sexual orientations are suing to overturn the law. It takes effect on Jan. 1.

Their lawyer, Mathew Staver, asked Judge Mueller to keep the ban on hold while the lawsuit proceeds.

Deputy Attorney General Alexandra Gordon argued the ban is needed to protect young people from a practice that has been rejected by mainstream mental health organizations.

Coast Guard member dies in crash with smuggler

VENTURA — A U.S. Coast Guard member was killed and another was injured when their small boat was rammed by a smuggler’s vessel before dawn Sunday off the Southern California coast.

Terrell Horne III of Redondo Beach was pronounced dead after being brought ashore at the Port of Hueneme, said Ventura County deputy medical examiner James Baroni. He suffered a traumatic head injury, Coast Guard officials said.

The second man was treated for minor injuries. His name wasn’t released.

The smuggler’s panga, which was running without lights, maneuvered at a high rate of speed directly at the small boat before fleeing, according to a Coast Guard statement. Both Coast Guard members were thrown into the water.

Another Coast Guard vessel stopped the fleeing panga, and detained two suspects. 

NEW JERSEY

Gas spill continues to keep more than 100 from homes

PAULSBORO — Officials say more than 100 southern New Jersey residents will be kept out of their homes for several more days as crews work to clear hazardous gas that spewed from a ruptured freight train car.

Noting that the hazardous material is still in the area, officials said Sunday that the Paulsboro residents won’t be able to return to their homes in the 12-block evacuation zone until at least Saturday.

Public schools will be open Monday, but a day care center and the municipal courts will be closed.

The derailment Friday sent dozens of people to a hospital, but no serious injuries have been reported.

ARKANSAS

Settlement reached in dispute over $1M lottery ticket in trash

SEARCY — A lawsuit over who owns a $1 million scratch-off Arkansas lottery ticket that a woman pulled from a convenience store trash can was settled out of court, a defense attorney said Friday.

Jury selection was set to begin Friday in White County for a trial to decide who should keep the winnings from the “Diamond Dazzler” ticket that Sharon Duncan bought in July 2011 at a convenience store in Beebe, about 35 miles northeast of Little Rock. Ms. Duncan said she threw away the ticket after a scanner said it wasn’t a winner, and Sharon Jones pulled the ticket from the trash and claimed the jackpot.

Lisa Petriches, the convenience store’s manager, sued Ms. Jones, claiming the woman illegally took the ticket from the bin that had been marked “Do not take.” Ms. Duncan joined the lawsuit after a judge determined she might be the true owner of the ticket.

OHIO

Failed bridge bomb plotter given 6 years in prison

AKRON — The first man to plead guilty in a failed plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio was sentenced Friday to six years in prison, the lightest sentence of the four handed out so far.

Anthony Hayne, 36, of Cleveland, apologized before being sentenced in U.S. District Court. His guilty plea and offer to testify for prosecutors quickly led three of his co-defendants to plead guilty.

A fifth defendant is undergoing a psychiatric exam.

Hayne, who was at greater risk of a long sentence because of his criminal record for theft and breaking and entering, had pleaded guilty in a deal seeking to avoid a possible life sentence. He stuck with his guilty plea but backed out of the plea deal, hoping his sentence would still be less than his co-defendants.

The men were arrested in an FBI sting operation targeting a highway bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron. The FBI has said the public was never in danger and the device was a dud provided by an informant.

MICHIGAN

Affirmative action ruling stayed by appeals court

LANSING — A federal appeals court is temporarily staying its declaration that Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions is unconstitutional after state Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout said Friday the law remains in effect unless the high court refuses to hear the appeal. If the Supreme Court takes the case, the law will continue until a ruling is made.

PENNSYLVANIA

U.S. authorities move to deport accused Nazi

PITTSBURGH — As U.S. authorities continue a long legal battle to deport a former Nazi concentration camp guard, it’s not clear what will happen next if they prevail.

Anton Geiser, now 88, has been living in a small western Pennsylvania town for more than 50 years. He didn’t even tell his family about the Nazi service until 2004, when the Justice Department began legal proceedings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks