Maybe it is time to update that old hippie paean that goes, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” to: “If you’re going to California, be sure to leave your Bible at home.”
Like Nevada, California has a law on the books making it illegal for any therapist to provide so-called conversion therapy to anyone under the age of 18. In Nevada that is defined as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.” It is illegal no matter whether the child or his or her parents are willing participants.
Recently the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2943 on a vote of 50-14, making it unlawful to advertise, offer to engage in or engage in any effort whatsoever to change anyone’s sexual orientation by anyone at all.
The bill specifically states: “Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service. Therefore, claims that sexual orientation change efforts are effective in changing an individual’s sexual orientation, may constitute unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business practices under state consumer protection laws. This bill intends to make clear that sexual orientation change efforts are an unlawful practice under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.”
Now, there are a number of passages in the Christian Bible and, or so we’re told, in Islam’s Koran that are highly critical of behavior other than heterosexuality. It would seem on the surface that if the California Senate passes and the governor signs this bill that selling Bibles and Korans, or even having them in libraries, would be against the law in California.
The current law in Nevada has a ham-fisted attempt to protect religious practices.
Just before it was passed in the 2017 Legislature, the bill was amended to say “there is nothing in this bill that regulates or prohibits licensed health care professionals from engaging in expressive speech or religious counseling with such children if the licensed health care professionals: (1) are acting in their pastoral or religious capacity as members of the clergy or as religious counselors; and (2) do not hold themselves out as operating pursuant to their professional licenses when so acting in their pastoral or religious capacity.”
So, which hat is the professional licensee wearing when talking to a child about gender? The pastor hat or the doctor hat?
The Alliance Defending Freedom says bluntly that AB2943 outlaws speech by targeting a specific message — advice to anyone about changing sexual orientation.
The organization argues that a “religious ministry could not hold a conference on maintaining sexual purity if the conference encourages attendees to avoid homosexual behavior,” and 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.”
Additionally ADF says a “bookstore (including online bookstores like Amazon) could not sell many recently published books challenging gender identity ideology and advocating that these beliefs should be rejected by society …”
Presumably, under such a law it would be illegal to write that 80 to 95 percent of all children who express feelings of gender dysphoria abandon those feelings upon maturity and that more than 80 percent of youth claiming to experience same-sex attractions in late childhood and adolescence identified themselves as exclusively heterosexual upon becoming adults.
What happens in California too often has a way to seeping across the border. So be forewarned.
A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.