The California state Senate has delayed a vote on a controversial bill that would make it illegal to sell services or materials related to sexual orientation “conversion therapy.”
The bill would make it an unlawful business practice to engage in any “transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” aimed at “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
Goods would include any books or written materials, while services would encompass counseling individuals seeking to address same-sex attractions.
The Christian Post reported Wednesday that public outcry against the bill is the reason consideration of it has been delayed until early August, when the Senate reconvenes.
“This has been one of the most controversial bills that we’ve seen in California in the five years I’ve been at California Family Council,” said Jonathan Keller, the organization’s president, in an interview this week with OneNewsNow.
“We’ve had national organizations — Focus on the Family, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Radio — tons of people all across the country that realize this is a blatant attack on the First Amendment, on free speech, on the free exercise of religion,” he said.
The Christian Post reported that Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, who sponsored the legislation, wants to meet with representatives from churches whose pastors and lay leaders oppose the bill.
According to a Los Angeles Times report in April, “One key part of the debate centers on whether Assembly Bill 2943 would stretch beyond businesses that charge for (conversion) programs and extend to printed documents, even Bibles.”
Those opposed to the bill point to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra in June to support their position that AB 2943 would result in an unconstitutional suppression of free speech. The ruling struck down a California law that required pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to advertise abortion services.
Randy Thomasson with SaveCalifornia.com told CBN News in April that the bill’s actual language is very broad and can easily be brought to bear on Christian ministries.
“So, this is a pastor speaking, you pay a ticket to hear him speak. He speaks about overcoming same-sex desires. Hey, that could be outlawed. A church sells a book about overcoming same-sex desires. There’s a sale, there’s a transaction, that could be banned,” Thomasson said.
“This is very expansive, very tyrannical and absolutely squashing free speech, religious freedom and basic choice of people. This is an anti-freedom, anti-American bill,” he added.
Ken Williams, who co-leads Equipped to Love, a ministry based in Redding, California, aimed at helping people abandon homosexuality, said the support and attention the cause has gotten has given him hope.
“We are very encouraged, and we need to still be praying that the bill is defeated,” he said in a Facebook Live video this week from the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento.
“(T)here are so many great things happening. People are standing up and sharing their stories that [they] never have before that they’ve experienced transformation in their identities because of their relationship with God.”
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