In 2018, the California State Legislature sought to pass AB 2943, a law that would have used that state’s consumer fraud statute as a means to penalize free speech and religious freedom on the issues of homosexuality and gender identity. AB 2943 would have affected those who proclaim a biblical view of homosexuality and gender identity, any time there was a monetary exchange. Christian counselors, bookstores, schools, conferences and bookstores would have been liable to lawsuits for “consumer fraud.”
Assembly member Evan Low was chief sponsor of the bill; he withdrew the legislation after vocal opposition by many people of faith, including pastors, mental health professionals and a large group of men and women who had found freedom from homosexuality.
Low promised he’d return with a new law, after spending some time talking with faith leaders around the state. Well, he’s back. This time he’s introducing a resolution – which does not have the full force of law – but which lays out the legislature’s opinions and beliefs about an issue. As you might guess, the bill is not at all friendly toward people of faith. The resolution hasn’t received much media attention, but Low’s office has sent a letter to pastors he met with, inviting them to support the measure.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 99 (ACR 99) is framed as a civil rights issue. The resolution gives the legislature’s views about homosexuality and transgenderism, saying these are “normal variations that occur in sexual orientation and gender identity.” And it “calls upon religious leaders with conviction to counsel on LGBT matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy.”
ACR 99 also accuses some therapists and religious groups of creating stigma for LGBT-identified individuals and says this “has caused disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBT and questioning individuals.”
In essence, the resolution tells religious leaders and people of faith what they should believe – or not believe – about homosexuality and transgenderism. And it tells them that their biblical view of sexuality causes serious health problems for LGBT-identified individuals.
A coalition of doctors, lawyers, policy leaders, licensed counselors, pastors, and former LGBT-identified people has written a letter opposing ACR 99. They argue that the resolution is dangerous because it “tells Californians of many religions that their faith is unacceptable to the state” and that politicians are telling “California churches, synagogues, and mosques what they should and should not teach.”
The coalition gives reasons why people seek change-allowing therapy for unwanted homosexuality or gender confusion, such as:
- They identified as gay or transgender and lived as such but ultimately did not find it fulfilling.
- Some same-sex attracted moms and dads love their spouse and children and want to change their attractions to save their marriage and family. ACR 99 is trying to take away their right to get help from a therapist or even their pastor.
- Some want to live in accordance with their values and beliefs, and these should be respected.
The group also argues that change-allowing therapies are not “ineffective, unethical, and harmful,” as ACR 99 claims. According to the letter:
The often misrepresented American Psychological Association task force report (2009) actually said there was no research that met its standards and showed change-allowing therapy is ineffective or harmful. …
Contrary to misrepresentations, therapists who are open to a client’s goal of change use non-aversive, well-established mainstream practices and evidence-based treatments for trauma and addictions used by professional therapists worldwide.
The measure is set for a vote in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, June 18th. It’s expected to go before the full California Assembly on Thursday, June 20th.
For more on ACR 99:
Joe Dallas, who left homosexuality and counsels other strugglers, has a blog post about the resolution.
Elizabeth Woning, who came out of lesbianism and counsels other strugglers, writes about ACR 99.
Our Focus-affiliated California Family Council has an article explaining their concerns.
Update, August 1, 2019: Concerned about the California Legislature encroaching on free speech and religious freedom? The California Family Council makes it possible for you to make your voice heard by signing the letter opposing ACR 99. This resolution has already been approved by the California State Assembly and will be heard later this month in the California Senate Judiciary Committee. Voice your support for individuals who want to live according to a biblical sexual ethic – regardless of their struggles with homosexuality or transgender issues – and for the pastors, therapists and ministry leaders who assist them in doing so.
- Sign the letter of opposition: Please sign the ACR 99 opposition letter and encourage your pastor and other leaders to do the same.
- Or, send in your own letter of opposition to the Senate Judiciary Committee at [email protected]; or by fax to (916) 403-7394. ACR 99 is expected to have a hearing before this committee on August 20th or 27th. Letters must be received by the committee a week before the hearing.