SACRAMENTO, California, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The California State Assembly is slated to vote on legislation that has been interpreted as broad enough to ban the sale of books that address helping people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.
AB 2943 adds “[a]dvertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” to the state’s list of illegal “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.”
“Sexual orientation change efforts” are defined as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation.”
The bill makes no exceptions for adults who actively seek such efforts, or minors whose parents have given their consent. (California minors are not currently required to obtain parental consent for abortions.)
The bill passed the assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee 8-2 and the Judiciary Committee 8-1, clearing the way for a floor vote. That vote has yet to be scheduled, but the California Family Council says it could take place as soon as Thursday.
“Conversion therapy as a practice implies an inherent wrongness in who I am,” Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, who introduced the bill, declared on April 10. “There is nothing wrong with who I am or with anyone in the LGBT community. This legislation sets California apart as a state of inclusion, not exclusion.”
Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), disagrees.
“Traditional medical ethics, enshrined in the Oath of Hippocrates, requires physicians to prescribe according to the best of their ability and judgment, and to avoid doing harm. And patients have the right to choose their therapeutic goals,” she said. “These bills impose on all Californians, by law, the opinion of an activist lobby that same-sex attraction or the belief that a person is imprisoned in a body of the ‘wrong’ biological sex is always normal, healthy, and immutable.”
Pro-homosexual lawmakers in other states, such as Washington, have pushed similar legislation prohibiting treatment for unwanted sexual attraction, but critics say the scope of AB 2943 is unprecedented.
National Review’s David French, an attorney who specialized in religious liberty with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), wrote Tuesday that by classifying the subject under prohibited “goods,” the legislation would “actually–among other things–ban the sale of books.” He added on Twitter that it was “terribly drafted.”
“At its core, AB 2943 outlaws speech,” ADF’s legal analysis of the bill reads. It says that licensed counseling, religious conferences, book sales, and paid speaking engagements could all potentially face legal penalties for promoting ways to reverse unwanted attractions or for expressing traditional Christian teachings on sexuality.
ADF further notes that the section of California’s civil code pertaining to “deceptive acts or practices” expressly “commands that it be ‘liberally construed and applied,’ Cal. Civil Code § 1760, resulting in prohibitions against [sexual orientation change efforts] potentially being applied beyond the confines of a traditional counseling relationship to many other constitutionally protected activities.”
If AB 2943 becomes law, it will be all-but certain to face legal challenge.
The United States Constitution expressly forbids federal laws “abridging the freedom of speech” or “prohibiting the free exercise” of “religion” (a provision the Fourteenth Amendment has long been interpreted as extending to state laws). The California Constitution declares that “[e]very person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects,” and that “[f]ree exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed.”
“Conversion therapy,” also known as reparative therapy, is controversial largely because it challenges the homosexual lobby’s claim that sexual attraction is biologically rooted and unchangeable. Prominent medical organizations such as the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) have condemned the practice, but many former homosexuals attest to its effectiveness.
Even some homosexual academics have begun dissenting from the “born this way” trope in recent years. In 2016, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Dr. Lisa Diamond advised LGBT activists to “stop saying ‘born that way and can’t change’ for political purposes, because the other side knows it’s not true as much as we do.”