Evan Low

Sometimes the religious right is its own worst enemy. In attempting to defeat California AB-2943, which would make conversion therapy consumer fraud per se, they have brought a tremendous amount of attention to efforts to change someone’s sexuality. The process is already banned for minors in California and that measure has survived extensive litigation.

Because of the amount of attention that AB-2943 received awareness might have increased as well. That awareness might cause an adult to think about what he or she hopes to accomplish and why. It might have also reinforced the ban on juvenile conversion therapy which could result in fewer parents marching their kids to religious crackpots to pray away whatever is disapproved of.

I doubt that many California adults are consumers of conversion therapy each year. Societal pressures on LGBT people continue to decline. What is left are those few LGBT adults who might be influenced by their religion; mostly conservative evangelical Christians. Catholics have their own ministry which would not have been affected by AB-2943.

The lack of demand cuts both ways. AB-2943 would have affected very few people so what interests does it serve? On the other hand, due to the limited effect, it became obvious that the religious conservatives were not terribly interested in conversion therapy as an intervention. Rather, they were interested in conversion therapy as supposed proof that people can be cured in order to support discrimination and to oppose nondiscrimination laws.

I read Assemblymember Evan Low’s statement. However, I do not understand why he decided against seeking the governor’s signature. The bill passed by wide margins in both houses of the legislature. Perhaps it was the threat of litigation. Perhaps Low did not want to risk the issue of conversion therapy bans going to the Supreme Court without Justice Kennedy. (In spite of all the noise I expect Kavanaugh to be confirmed)

Furthermore, the hate groups are bolstered by such litigation because they raise far more money off of it than their legal expenses. Meanwhile I have email from some of those groups that their prayers were answered. If there is a god, s/he is probably not very concerned about AB-2943.

Hopefully, as a result of AB-2943, more people know the facts about conversion therapy. That includes the realization that there is no peer-reviewed research published to a respected academic journal in support of conversion therapy. Hopefully, more people are now aware of the fact that every mainstream professional medical and counseling peer organization has determined that conversion therapy doesn’t work and is possibly harmful.

In contrast, I doubt that all of this attention has increased the demand for a highly controversial procedure. AB-2943 may very well be less necessary today than it was when originally proposed. Certainly it would have been preferable to have the measure signed into law but the legislators are not without some reward for their efforts.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.