BreakPoint: California To Ban Books?

AB 2943 an Assault on the First Amendment

Once again in California, we see that the new sexual orthodoxy trumps the Constitution.

All Americans should be alarmed, and I mean increasingly so, about the California Assembly’s increasing disregard for the First Amendment.

After all, it’s the California Assembly that attempted to require pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise the state’s “free or low-cost” abortion services, the subject of a recent Supreme Court oral argument.

Even liberal Justice Sotomayor called that law “burdensome and wrong.”

But now, the California Assembly has voted to add what it calls “conversion therapy” to the list of “deceptive business practices” prohibited by state law. California already banned “conversion therapy,” at least for minors, in 2012. This new bill, AB 2943, not only extends that ban to adults, it also makes the sale of all goods and services involving “sexual orientation change efforts” an “unlawful business practice.”

Thus, according to this bill, you can talk to a psychotherapist about your same-sex attraction as long as the goal is “acceptance, support, and understanding” and avoiding “unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices.”

But if the goal is to somehow to alter or even rein in those attractions or associated behaviors, it’s against the law.

Now by itself, this level of state interference with patient-doctor relationships raises significant constitutional issues. It’s forgotten that an important part of the rationale behind Roe v. Wade was that the right to privacy included doctors and patients being able to decide on a course of treatment without undue government interference.

But what makes matters worse is that AB 2943 is so broadly and vaguely worded. It’s hard to predict where this thing will reach. Words like “goods,” “acceptance,” “support” and “understanding” are the legal equivalent of minefields waiting to blow up.

For example, if a psychotherapist doesn’t try to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity but is, in the patients’ eyes, insufficiently accepting, supportive, and understanding, has he run afoul of AB 2943?

And what constitutes a “good?” Does an academic field of study count as a “good” or “service?” The implications for Christian colleges and universities are dire. Will a Summit Ministries conference, which teaches students they don’t need to act on same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, be illegal in California?

What about books, particularly those that endorse historic Christian teaching on sexuality and marriage, like my book with Sean McDowell? Would it be banned under this law?

It’s absurd that under AB 2943, a California bookstore could sell “Mein Kampf” without legal repercussion, but not a book on changing, or even curbing the acting upon, sexual orientation. Nor is it clear which books would run afoul of AB 2943. There’s no spelled-out difference between a “how to” manual for conversion therapy and a legal and cultural analysis of the issues, like, for example, “When Harry Became Sally” by Ryan Anderson.

The bottom line is that AB 2943 is a textbook example of viewpoint discrimination.

David French of National Review is right when he calls the bill “extraordinarily radical.” It should alarm us all that the obvious constitutional problems weren’t obvious to the sponsors and supporting legislators.

The California Senate will now take up the bill. If you live in California, you need to let your senator know that stifling free speech under the guise of consumer protection is beyond unacceptable. If you don’t live in California but have friends and relatives who do, send them this commentary and urge them to contact their state senator.

And for all of us: We need to pray that they will find wisdom and courage to do the right thing.


California To Ban Books? AB 2943 an Assault on the First Amendment

As John has said, this is a troubling step by California’s legislature. Pray that the state senate does not disregard the First Amendment right of freedom of speech, and that viewpoint discrimination is not allowed to take root. And as John has suggested, if you live in California, contact your state senator. If you don’t live in California but have friends and relatives who do, send them this commentary and urge them to get in touch with their senators.


For anyone who wants to learn more or directly contact their senators, California Family Council has set up

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  • Robbert Yoshimaru

    Avoiding ‘unsafe sexual practices’ ? What about unsafe sex practiced by many gay men? I worked in a major urban core during the AIDS crisis and many of my colleagues were rampant homosexuals. Whacked. Totally whacked.

  • Karen Cobel

    Interesting that one can discuss same-sex attraction as long as a goal is to “accept, support, and understand,” and to avoid “unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices.” A compassionate and competent counselor who wants to help someone who WANTS help to change DOES accept, support, and understand the PERSON who wants to deal with it while not accepting the behavior as healthy. And sodomy used to be unlawful, and it is most certainly an “unsafe sexual practice,” especially with the higher rates of promiscuity and spread of STI’s in the gay community.

  • Matthew Georgia

    The author of this article took a very long road around to try and make this a book banning/1st amendment issue. And even at the end of the road made no solid argument that book banning has anything to do with this bill. Assembly Bill 2943 is about stopping the emotionally and psychologically damaging practice of conversion therapy.

  • Sandra Spinning-Wilson Hendric

    As ‘Justice Sotomayor’ said, it’s just, “burdensome and wrong” for those wanting help!

  • These Things Were Written

    Taking the position that seeks to prove homosexual and lesbian acts are harmful to a persons mental health is an error that Christian have ventured into. This was never the position of God. The issue is that God is our Creator and He made men for women and women for men. God said that same sex relationships are a perversion of His intended purpose for human beings. By virtue of His authority as our Creator, only God has the inherent right to determine our behavior, not we ourselves.

  • Gustavo Pomar

    I only hope we Christians have to courage and faith to stand on the ground “it’s better to obey God than man.”