No, California’s Ban on Ex-Gay Therapy Won’t Ban the Bible

Conservatives are claiming that an ex-gay therapy ban in California would ultimately be used to ban the bible. This simply isn’t true.

The legislation, known as “AB-2943” or the “Unlawful business practices: sexual orientation change efforts,” was filed by lawmaker Evan Low (D).

It would make it illegal under the Consumer Remedies Act for therapists and businesses to engage in “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual”. That is all.

In no area of the legislation does the ban even touch on the Bible. Furthermore, it at no point targets pastors. Like New Jersey’s state-wide ban on ex-gay therapy on minors, it clearly only applies to state-licensed therapists who are profiting from this fraudulent, harmful practice.

The legislation has passed California’s Assembly and is now being dealt with in the Senate. Sensing its impending success, right-wing groups and even Republican lawmakers have launched a full-on misinformation campaign about the legislation, saying that it will “ban the Bible”.

Recently, on One America News, California Assemblymember Travis Allen told host Liz Wheeler that “Well, literally, according to how this law is written, yes, it would [ban the Bible]. This is, you know, PC culture, politically correct culture, gone horribly awry.”

Allen claims that this is an assault on the First Amendment and a case of Democrats telling Americans how to think.

I defy Assembly member Allen to substantiate those claims by pointing to the wording where it “literally” calls for a ban on the Bible. There isn’t even a mention of the Bible in the text. The scope of the bill is incredibly narrow.

Snopes has even undertaken a detailed fact-checking of claims that the bill would ban so-called “Christian books” that talk about ex-gay therapy. Fact checker Dan MacGuill spoke to Anthony Samson, a Sacramento attorney, who said the bill only prohibits sexual orientation change efforts where they are performed for money.

Samson confirmed, “It does not apply to the sale of books or any other kind of goods, and it does not prevent anyone from speaking or writing on the subject of conversion therapy in any forum.” Several other legal experts and commentators have backed up Samson’s legal opinion.

California’s Assembly Judiciary Committee has also confirmed the ban will only apply to licensed therapists, the LA Times reports.

Nevertheless, right-wing legal groups are threatening to take this matter before the courts. They may well do, but they should also be prepared to lose.

California already has a ban on ex-gay therapy for legal minors. This was hotly contested in the courts, with ex-gay therapy groups and religious therapists arguing it violated their constitutional free speech rights. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out that challenge.

The Court said that while there may indeed be some restrictions placed on speech, ex-gay therapy went beyond the scope of the First Amendment and instead was classed as “conduct”. The state, therefore, can regulate conduct if it provides a reasonable justification.

The safeguarding of young LGBT people from damaging ”therapy” is just such a justification. At the time, LGBT rights groups and even some lawmakers said that the reasoning applies not just to ex-gay therapy being practiced on young people, but adults too.

To be clear, this new bill would not infringe someone’s ability to stop identifying as gay, only that ex-gay therapy could not be affirmed as a “healthy” practice or be something a licensed therapist could support. This is in keeping with all mainstream medical bodies who say that affirming emergent sexual identity is the best and most effective way of dealing with anxiety surrounding sexuality and gender.

By the same token, attempting to change someone’s sexuality can be extremely harmful and there is no proven success record.

What is essentially happening here is that some opponents of the bill know that the legislature is likely to pass this ban, and what’s more that it will probably be upheld by the courts. They are therefore attempting to sway the public into pressuring lawmakers against the bill, and to make it so unpalatable that it does not pass.

This will not work. We may expect a ballot campaign will also be launched, but the last attempt at putting an ex-gay therapy ban before the public fizzled.

But this does indicate one thing very clearly: there is no justification for ex-gay therapy being performed by licensed therapists. Instead of basing their opposition with facts, ex-gay therapy supporters are having to tell blatant untruths about this bill. That isn’t very Christian, and it certainly doesn’t make for a winning argument.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

71 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Gino C
Gino C6 months ago

thank you

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John W
John W7 months ago

If you say so...

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Tania N
Tania N7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Tania N
Tania N7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Tania N
Tania N7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Tania N
Tania N7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Karen H
Karen H7 months ago

Fear in religion again. And lies to control and "keep the faithful sitting in those pews and donating to the collection plate." You can keep your bible; you just can't keep your "therapy". Show me where Jesus (not Paul) said anything about LGBTQ.

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Lesa D
Lesa D7 months ago

thank you Steve...

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Janis K
Janis K7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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