(i) (1) “Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
(2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.
Do I think it possible that the State of California could come after Summit for its Christian training conferences? Yes. Is that likely? Probably not, at least not now. The point is the chilling effect. The bill seems to be focused on reparative therapy, but as Summit’s Jeff Myers says in the video, that is already banned in California. So what’s going on?
Consider this scenario. A California man presents himself to a licensed therapist, and says that he is married but experiencing intense attraction to a male co-worker. The man is a Christian, as is the therapist. The man asks the therapist to help him figure out how to manage those attractions without giving in to them, because he believes both that a) acting on homosexual desire is immoral, and b) acting on any sexual desire whose object is not his wife is immoral. The counselor agrees to help the man.
Let’s say then that the man leaves his wife for his male co-worker, divorces her and marries the man. He then files a lawsuit under California law, seeking redress against the counselor for trying to talk him out of acting on his homosexual desire. How would the therapist defend himself?
It seems to me that any therapist or pastoral counselor who in any way discouraged people from expressing transgender desires or homosexual desires would be open to charges or sanctions under state law, if this bill passes (as it seems certain to do). Where am I wrong?
UPDATE: A reader points us to David French’s latest, including a video from a Democratic state assemblyman. French — who is a lawyer — points out why the bill, as written, could be interpreted to prohibit the sale of certain books. Excerpt:
To this point, California’s statute is standard. Consumer protection acts apply broadly to goods and services, and they’re generally designed to prevent outright frauds and misrepresentations in commercial transactions. Anti-fraud statutes generally aren’t a threat to the First Amendment because consumer fraud isn’t constitutionally protected speech.
But here’s where the act gets pernicious. Scroll down through the list of dozens of prohibited acts, and you’ll come to paragraph 28, which bans: “Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
Wait. What? “Sexual orientation change efforts” are in the same category as consumer fraud? So, what is a sexual-orientation-change effort? According to the bill, it means “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” (Emphasis added.)
This definition is far, far broader than the traditional definition of so-called reparative therapy — the effort to change a person’s romantic feelings toward people of the same sex — it now includes efforts to change mere behavior. In other words, if for example, a sexually active gay man or woman sought counseling not to change their orientation but rather to become celibate, then the services and goods provided in that effort would violate this statute. If parents faced a child who was identifying as a person of the opposite sex, then services and goods making the argument that, for example, they should persist in calling their daughter “she” and withhold life-altering hormone treatment in part because most children exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria desist would violate this statute.
This is a dramatic infringement on First Amendment rights, rendered even more pernicious by its functional declaration of certain kinds of religious speech and argument as the equivalent of consumer fraud.
Here’s the video. Evolve with the times, religious people. This lawmaker commands you: