California lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill that bans counselors from helping adults with unwanted same-sex attraction but there is growing evidence the legislation is more much ominous.
Assembly Bill 2943, which has passed in the State Assembly, is now in the California State Senate.
If passed and signed into law, the bill would ban "advertising and any tangible goods or services for personal, family, or household use, offering or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual."
In other words, if a good such a book or a service, such as a Christian conference, claim to help someone with unwanted same-sex attraction, those goods and services would be illegal in California.
"This legislation is so broad," warns Pacific Justice Institute attorney Brad Dacus, "it would ban books - actually ban books - in the United States of America."
Such claims are predictably being dismissed or ignored by the bill's supporters as right-wing fearmongering.
Homosexual-rights group Human Rights Campaign trumpeted the bill in an April 19 press release because it declares so-called "conversion therapy" a fraudulent practice and bans the practice in the state for adults. A law already on the books bans "conversion therapy" for children.
Yet the HRC press release failed to address concerns raised by conservatives.
A lengthy Media Matters story from April 2 lists the "anti-LGBTQ groups" fighting the legislation but also fails to address their concerns.
Explaining why conservatives are right to be alarmed, attorney-writer David French explains in a National Review story that the bill's own language states that goods and services are deemed unlawful, and so "goods" include books and "services" include a bookstore that sells it.
French goes on to point out that the bill's language defines "sexual orientation change efforts" as fraudulent to the State of California, and others are pointing out the biblical belief that homosexuality is sinful yet salvation can change that person from homosexual to straight.
"This is a dramatic infringement on First Amendment rights," warns French, "rendered even more pernicious by its functional declaration of certain kinds of religious speech and argument as the equivalent of consumer fraud."
French's warning was buoyed by video of a California lawmaker, Al Muratsuch, suggesting during debate that the Church must "evolve with the times."
"It looks like the State Senate is going to likely pass this," Dacus predicts. "And then it will go to the governor's desk and it will be up to Governor Jerry Brown to decide whether or not he chooses to respect the Constitution's First Amendment right of religious freedom."
Asked about the bill on American Family Radio, longtime conservative activist Gary Bauer said the Left has run the board in California, where it controls the legislature and the governor's office, and dominates Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
"And what they're building in California," he said, "looks more like Venezuela than it does the United States of America."
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