Will California Assembly Bill 2943 Ban Bibles?

There are plenty of posts about this law which has been proposed in California and most of the posts are saying it will essentially outlaw the sale of the Bible. So let’s take a little fact diving trip and see what we can find out to be true about this law.

If you would like to look at the law yourself, you can see it here. Assembly Bill 2943

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth …

Principle CoAuthors (all Democrat)

TopicUnlawful business practices: sexual orientation change efforts.
Title: An act to amend Sections 1761 and 1770 of the Civil Code, relating to unlawful business practices.
Committee Vote Result: (PASS) »» Ayes: 8; Noes: 1; Abstain: 1. 04/04/18 From committee: Do pass and re-refer to Com. on JUD. (Ayes 8. Noes 2.) (April 3). Re-referred to Com. on JUD.
PLEASE NOTEOur emphasis added is indicated by this color/type of text, all other emphasis is as seen in the original documentation.

Quotes from the actual text of Bill 2943

  • Existing law prohibits mental health providers, as defined, from performing sexual orientation change efforts, as specified, with a patient under 18 years of age. Existing law requires a violation of this provision to be considered unprofessional conduct and subjects the provider to discipline by the provider’s licensing entity.
  • This bill would include, as an unlawful practice prohibited under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual. The bill would also declare the intent of the Legislature in this regard.
  • The Legislature finds and declares the following:
    – (a) Contemporary science recognizes that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, disorder, or illness. [NOTE: This is followed by several organizations and their finding such as ‘The American Psychological Association,’ The American Psychiatric Association,’ ‘The American Academy of Pediatrics,’ etc, etc.
    – (p) Courts Courts, including in California, have recognized the practice of sexual orientation change efforts as a commercial service, and 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.

What changes are proposed to the current law?

All the statements made in the “Legislature finds and declares” Section which would include the statements referenced above and all the research data noted.

SEC. 2. Section 1761 of the Civil Code would have the following added:

(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.
(2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.

 

SEC. 3.  Section 1770 of the Civil Code

1770.  (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:

would have the following added:

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

Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection

A hearing was held on April 3rd by the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. Here are some excerpts from their findings. Analysis Prepared by: Ronak Daylami / P. & C.P. / (916) 319-2200

10) Arguments in opposition:

Faith and Public Policy, a ministry of a non-denominational church in Chino Hills, California, writes in opposition that the bill “outlaws freedom of speech. A minister, religious leader, licensed counselor, or best-selling author would be prohibited from addressing the issue of unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion if a monetary exchange takes place. Under AB 2943:

1)A church or religious organization could not hold a conference on sexual purity if the conference encourages those in attendance to avoid homosexual behavior.
2)Bookstores could not sell any recently published books challenging gender identity ideology and advocating that these beliefs should be looked at through a biblical perspective.
3)A pastor or conference speaker could not encourage attendees to prevail over same-sex desires or feelings that they were born the wrong sex.”

Staff notes that nothing in this bill prohibits clergy from counseling their parish. This bill merely addresses advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual“in transactions intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.” Furthermore, this issue has arguably been addressed by the courts when they reviewed SB 1172’s ban of conversion therapy and found that conversion therapy is a type of conduct subject to reasonable government regulations with a secular purpose (i.e.,neutral laws of general applicability). Staff does note, however, that the court found it important that the law applied only to the conduct of state-licensed health care providers, and not religious leaders. This bill presumably has the same outcome, given the element of “transactions” involved.

Assembly Committee on Judiciary

There was a hearing on April 10th by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. Here are some of the statements from their document. Analysis Prepared by:Alison Merrilees / JUD. / (916) 319-2334 (Acronym Note: Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE):
  • Key Issue: Should advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts be considered an unlawful business practice in California?
  • This bill seeks to extend SB 1172’s prohibition on sexual orientation change efforts beyond those provided by mental health providers to minors. First, it seeks to apply the prohibition on the performance of SOCE to all persons, regardless of age. Second, it seeks to make SB 1172’s prohibition applicable to all persons who engage in transactions resulting in or intended to result in a sale or lease of goods or services. Finally, it seeks to restrict advertising and offering of SOCE. However, as the analysis explains, it is arguably somewhat unclear whether the bill does, in fact, prohibit the act of performing SOCEon all persons, as the author intends. The analysis suggests that the author may wish to clarify, perhaps in one or more other code sections, that SOCE itself is unlawful. If that were the case, then the bill’s proposed amendments to prohibit advertising or offering SOCE, would be even more closely tailored to the bill’s goals and there would be an even stronger argument that the bill does not restrict commercial speech in an unconstitutional manner.
  • This bill seeks to ban both the practice of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE, also commonly called conversion therapy),and the advertising or offering of SOCE services. As the American College of Physicians has explained, “The core basis for “conversion,” “reorientation,” or “reparative” therapy, which is generally defined as therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of lesbian women and gay men, is mostly based on religious or moral objections to homosexuality or the belief that a homosexual person can be “cured” of their presumed illness.
  • Existing law(SB 1172)—Upheld on Constitutional Grounds. Existing California law defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as “any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”(BPC Section 865 (b)(1).) …
  • Existing law(SB 1172)—Upheld on Constitutional Grounds. … Specifically, SB 1172 prohibits a“mental health provider”(defined as a physician and surgeon specializing in the practice of psychiatry, a psychologist, a psychological assistant, intern, or trainee, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a registered marriage and family therapist, intern, or trainee, a licensed educational psychologist, a credentialed school psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, an associate clinical social worker, a licensed professional clinical counselor, a registered clinical counselor, intern, or trainee, or any other person designated as a mental health professional under California law or regulation)from conducting any “sexual orientation change efforts”with any patient under 18 years of age.
  • Thus, unlike the SB 1172, this bill would apply to all persons, including but not limited to mental health providers, who engage in SOCE on a commercial basis, as well as the advertising and offering of such services. As explained in more detail below, the bill is unusual in that it seeks to amend the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) by prohibiting the advertising of an act while also seeking to prohibit the act itself. Existing provisions of the CLRA regulate commercial activities, including the advertising and offering of products and services for sale, but the underlying products and services themselves are legal; they just cannot be advertised in a deceptive or misleading manner.
  • First Amendment—Free Exercise of Religion. The policy of this bill may be objectionable to some on the basis of religion or morality. However, the bill itself “is generally applicable, neutral, and does not regulate plaintiffs’ beliefs as such.” (Pickup v. Brown 2015 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 123881, at p.18.) It does not discriminate“against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons”and would not trigger the type of strict scrutiny described by the U.S. Supreme Court in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, described above. Therefore, using the Ninth Circuit’s deferential standard of rational review that it applied to SB 1172, this bill would certainly seem to meet the test of advancing a policy that is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest and would therefore survive a challenge on the basis that it violates the First Amendment’s protection for the free exercise of religion. Furthermore, the bill should have no impact on the ability of unpaid would-be counselors, including religious or spiritual advisors and anyone else who attempts to counsel other persons to change their sexual orientation, as long as such efforts are conducted on an unpaid basis. Assuming that counseling services are not offered as part of a transaction intended to result in, or that results in, the sale or services for SOCE, those services could lawfully continue to be provided,advertised, and offered under the provisions of the bill.

And there you have everything from the actual Bill. The headlines are most likely coming from the quote:

Bookstores could not sell any recently published books challenging gender identity ideology and advocating that these beliefs should be looked at through a biblical perspective.

We can’t say for certainty this won’t happen. But we can’t say for certain it will either. It does seem that any advertising for material being sold, about moving out of the LGBTQ lifestyle would be illegal, even someone’s personal story, Ads about self help books on the subject could be illegal.  Where is the line drawn?

What is confusing to some of us average Joe/Jane’s is, why do you have to ban advertising a service which isn’t illegal? There are probably plenty of advertisements many people don’t like, but we have to endure them. Truthfully, it would be nice to ban ALL advertisements sometimes, right? But it’s almost a necessary evil in order to be made aware of things we DO want and where to get them.

One would think, if something is legal, it should be able to be advertised. And as far as therapy services goes, there are plenty of opinions on various methods and whether they are helpful or harmful. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and electroshock therapy, have been in question for years. Are they helpful, harmful, or hoaxes is still questioned by many. There are also varies types of medications, exercise routines, diets, etc which are questionable. Where do we stop regulation of advertisement for questionable, but legal services and products? The scarier question becomes, who decides?

We’ll keep the commentary to a minimum on this, the point was to bring out facts and truth to what seemed like a dramatized situation. I guess whether it was really dramatized or not remains to be seen.

 

 

 

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