The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) recently warned constituents about proposed legislation that threatens religious freedom, parents’ rights, free speech, and privacy and safety – especially for girls and women.

The measure, HB 2802, is a mash-up bill that lumps together two types of legislation that are normally considered separately.

The first part of the legislation is a ban on “conversion therapy” for minors. “Conversion therapy” is essentially a meaningless term, made up by those who oppose a biblical and scientific view of sexuality. It refers to any sort of help for those struggling with unwanted homosexuality or transgenderism who wish to live according to a biblical sexual ethic that corresponds to the way their bodies are designed.

CAP, a Focus on the Family ally, explained,

First, the bill contains an unconstitutional counseling ban that seeks to silence one form of professional speech by imposing a government-sanctioned understanding of human sexuality on licensed health care professionals. They would be found guilty of “unprofessional conduct” for providing so-called “conversion therapy” to a minor. In practical terms, the bill prohibits minors struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity issues from receiving licensed professional counseling.

HB 2802 only allows treatment for minors with same-sex attractions or sexual identity confusion that “assists, supports, and encourages gender transition and same-sex attraction.”

CAP argues that such bans on talk therapy are “legally problematic,”

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down “conversion therapy” bans in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, ruling the ban violated the First Amendment as a content-based regulation on speech. The court stated, “The First Amendment has no carve out for controversial speech.”

The second part of the bill adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) “to current Arizona law that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on the protected classes of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, familial status, or national origin,” CAP said.

The family policy council argues that adding SOGI to these protected classes,

… enables these “nondiscrimination laws” to be used as a sword against individuals and organizations who have a historic understanding of marriage and gender. SOGI laws do not solve problems; they create them – like undermining constitutional freedoms of speech and religion, threatening women’s and girls’ equality and privacy, and limiting religious organizations that serve women and children.

The policy group explained that SOGI laws do “not solve a widespread problem” but are “solutions in search of a problem.”

CAP says, “Rather, these laws have been used around the country to punish photographers, florists and cake artists who have declined to participate in a same-sex wedding.”

The bill does have some religious exemptions, but would not protect licensed Christian therapists or Christian business owners, such as those mentioned by CAP. In addition, SOGI laws impose an ideological view on all Arizonans, painting those with real scientific, medical or biblical disagreements about sexual behavior and identity as “discriminating bigots.”

CAP encouraged concerned citizens to pray that HB 2802 would not pass and to contact state representatives, asking them to oppose the measure.

Related articles and resources:

Center for Arizona Policy

The Daily Citizen

Focus on the Family

Transgender Resources

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