By Jonathon Van Maren
Back in April, I wrote a column for LifeSiteNews taking a look at Bill 2943, a terrifying piece of legislation in California that essentially criminalized the Christian response to same-sex attraction as well as laid the groundwork for actually banning books and counseling that conflicted with the current secular orthodoxies on sexuality. Four months later, there is some excellent news on this front:
Family Research Council today welcomed the news that the California state legislature will not take final action on AB 2943, a bill which would have declared all forms of sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE (sometimes referred to as “conversion therapy”) to be a form of “consumer fraud” if performed for a fee. Such counseling or therapy is designed to assist people who experience unwanted same-sex attractions to achieve their own self-chosen goal of overcoming those attractions or abstaining from same-sex conduct.
In fact, because the “consumer fraud” statute applies to any sale of “goods or services,” AB 2943 could potentially have banned not just therapy but even the sale of books. And because “sexual orientation change” was defined to include changes in “behaviors” (not just attractions), the sale of any book promoting a Christian sexual ethic could have been banned—potentially including the Bible itself.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued the following statement:
“I applaud the efforts of the California Family Council, as well as hundreds of pastors and churches, the many courageous ex-gays, and the thousands of pro-family Californians in their successful campaign to protect our First Freedom by blocking enactment of AB 2943.
“This bill posed an unprecedented threat to freedom of religion. It would have taken the Golden State a long way down the road toward outlawing the teaching of a biblical sexual ethic altogether. Furthermore, it would have seriously infringed upon the freedom of speech of therapists, the autonomy of clients, and the privacy of both.
“Earlier this summer—in a decision striking down another California law that targeted pro-life pregnancy centers—the U.S. Supreme Court signaled that such therapy bans may well violate the First Amendment to the Constitution. I call on Assemblyman Low and the California legislature to abandon such measures once and for all.”
As David French of the National Review pointed out: “This is why you never stop trying to persuade.” Grassroots action still works, and one of the worst pieces of legislation we’ve seen in years has been defeated as a result. Defeat is not inevitable. Hard work on the front lines of the culture wars can produce results. It’s good for us to remember that every now and again.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.