March 21, 2018
If you want to live in freedom, don't move to California! The state, which seems to be the nation's incubator for radical policy, is at it again -- this time in a desperate push to stop hurting people from getting the help they need.
California already had the dubious distinction of being the first to interfere with the privacy of the therapist-client relationship when it banned minors from seeking out sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE. Now, it wants to expand its push with even more draconian laws. Only now, every private therapy client would be a target. Under AB 2943, it would be illegal for any counselor (including a religious one!) to accept money for any service that might help any patient, client, or customer of any age to change any aspect of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including their feelings or behaviors.
FRC's Peter Sprigg is astounded at the legislature's sweeping approach to therapy that even the liberal American Psychological Association admits can have positive results. "These bills would violate the privacy and confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship; the core ethical principle of client autonomy -- including for clients with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria -- to set their own goals for therapy; the freedom of speech for the therapist and counselor; and the religious liberty of all involved, since many of the people who seek or provide SOCE do so out of religious conviction."
And, as our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) point out, the threats don't stop there. This bill is so extreme that churches and pastors could be punished. The way AB 2943 is written, attorney Matt Sharp explains, "It could be a violation if a pastor encourages a congregant to visit the church bookstore to purchase books that help people address sexual issues, perhaps including the Bible itself, which teaches about the importance of sexual purity within the confines of marriage between a man and woman... The breadth of this censorship is staggering."
Of course, the timing of it couldn't be more ironic. Just yesterday, we were standing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court speaking out against yet another California law that tries to drown out the speech of pregnancy resource centers. As usual, opponents of freedom can't compete with the truth, so they try to silence it. We've watched it happen in the abortion debate, the marriage debate, education, and now, even private industries like counseling. Some extremists like to call this kind of therapy "torture." But the real torture is telling people who want help they can't have it.
For more on this debate, and what's at stake, check out Peter's paper, "Protect Client and Therapist Freedom of Choice" here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.