It is welcome 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.
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.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.