Assembly Bill 2943 is currently winding its way through California’s state legislature, and many religious leaders and free speech advocates are sounding the alarm about the possible ramifications if it should pass.

The proposed legislation is entitled “Unlawful Business Practices: Sexual Orientation Change Efforts“. The bill adds “sexual orientation change efforts” to the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

The key passages are as follows:

(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.

… (a) The following unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful…

(28) Advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.

The problem with the rules (as is so often the case with California regulations) is that the scope is so broad that materials as activities could be construed to meet the definition of “sexual orientation change efforts”. One need look no farther than our coffee houses, which are now decorated with cancer warnings, to appreciate the understandable concern religious leaders, conservatives, and those with common sense have over the proposed measure.

Fox News host Todd Starnes reviewed AB2943, and noted that Alliance Defending Freedom called the potential for censorship is “staggering”.

  • A religious ministry could not hold a conference on maintaining sexual purity if the conference encourages attendees to avoid homosexual behavior;
  • A bookstore (even online bookstores) could not sell many recently published books challenging gender identity ideology and advocating that these beliefs should be rejected by society;
  • A pastor paid to speak at an event addressing current social topics could not encourage attendees that they can prevail over same-sex desires or feelings that they were born the wrong sex.

The measure is quietly making its way to the state senate, for the next phase in implementation. To assuage the concerns now being voiced about the potential to outlaw the Bible and other faith-based material, “fact-checkers” cite that religious texts aren’t mentioned. The Federalist contributor Robert Gagnon explains why this approach is sneaky:

Read the bill. There is no religious exemption. There is no restriction to mental health professionals. There is not even a restriction to claims about changing a person’s sexual orientation or transgender feelings in whole or part. The bill is quite clear that any “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions” are included in the ban on attempts to change a person’s “sexual orientation.”

So you would be violating the law if you advertise that Christ can empower people not to engage in homosexual practice or not to identify as “gay” or “transgender” because such behaviors and self-identities are morally wrong, or if you offer to engage or actually engage in efforts to persuade people of Christ’s power to transform in this area, you will be in violation of California AB 2943, at least so long as your advertising or efforts involved in any way an exchange of money for goods or services.

Furthermore, like most progressive policies, the rules could end up hurting those it was intended to help.

The broad nature of AB 2943 also fails to consider those LGBT individuals who may seek help in their efforts to refrain from acting on certain inclinations. These individuals would be denied professional and personal help under AB 2943.

The policy would also affect transgender persons who later cease identifying with the opposite sex and wish to transition back to their biological gender. Under AB 2943, such individuals would be categorically denied the help and support they desire.

Should this bill be signed into law, there is a little hope that the rest of the nation will be spared further California insanity. Another #CalExit proposal has now been cleared for the signature gathering process.