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CA legislator plans to introduce counseling ban again, hoping for pastor support

Assemblyman Evan Low reportedly plans to introduce a revised ban on LGBT change efforts, including counseling, by the end of next month, with hopes of getting some evangelical support. Low pulled his bill, AB 2943, from consideration last August after some pastors indicated they would support a revised bill that protects churches. Yet according to a recent interview, Low said his new bill will not include an exemption for churches or religious organizations.

“We will not provide a religious license to discriminate,” Low told the Bay Area Reporter in a Jan 11th article. “Some say, ‘Why not insert language so Christians are exempted?’ Just like there should not be a religious exemption to deny me from being served in a restaurant, we will not provide a blanket guide to discriminate.”

Ironically, AB 2943 didn’t protect those with LGBT identities from discrimination, but took away their freedom to choose for themselves the counseling and resources they want. The bill would have made churches liable to lawsuits if they charged a fee when advocating for their biblical beliefs about sexuality. Specifically, the bill banned counseling, conferences, and other fee-based resources if they included historic Christian theology related to gender and sexual orientation.

For the past several months, Low as been working with evangelical pastors and educators who showed interest in a revised bill. One of those individuals is Azusa Pacific University chaplain Kevin Mannoia, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Last year, Mannoia wrote a confusing editorial for the OC Register, indicating he didn’t like some change therapy methods: “Reparative therapy is without evidence as to its efficacy and is inconsistent with Christian living.” Yet Mannoia also affirmed the Biblical view of marriage and sexuality, and the ability of God to change people. Low has repeatedly said he wants to ban all sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts, including biblically motivated ones.

Low interpreted Mannoia’s editorial as a reason to withdrawal his bill and work on getting other evangelical leaders to support a modified alternative. A new bill must be introduced by late February. There are serious doubts a compromise is possible. Time will tell.


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