The California Senate passed Assemblymember Evan Low’s (D-Silicon Valley) bill to protect LGBTQ Californians from so-called “conversion therapy” in a vote of 25-11. The legislation is cosponsored by Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, and the Trevor Project and would make clear that claiming to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity — or attempting to do so — in exchange for payment is a fraudulent business practice.
“For far too long, LGBTQ Californians have been psychologically abused by sham therapists who are supposed to be caring for their emotional well-being,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “We’re deeply grateful to Assemblymember Low, Senate Pro Tem Atkins and Senators Wiener, Lara and Galgiani for their leadership today — and to every member of the Senate who voted to protect LGBTQ Californians from these dangerous, harmful practices.”
The California Assembly passed AB 2943 with bipartisan support in April, and the bill will now return to the Assembly for a concurrence vote.
“We as legislators have a responsibility to protect Californians from harmful and deceptive practices. All Californians should be celebrated, cherished, and loved for who they are,” said Assemblymember Low. “I am grateful to my colleagues in the Senate for affirming their support for those in the LGBT community who need it most by voting for this bill.”
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), a member of the Legislative LGBT Caucus and co-author of AB 2943, managed the bill’s consideration on the Senate floor Thursday.
“Conversion therapy is psychological torture and has no medical or scientific basis,” said Senator Wiener. “It’s fraudulent to charge people with the promise of ‘changing’ them. Today’s Senate vote in favor of AB 2943 is a major step toward protecting LGBTQ people from pseudo-scientific treatment that harms them and scams them out of their money. I am proud of Assemblymember Evan Low for leading on this critical issue, and of my colleagues for recognizing the importance of restricting such an injurious practice.”
AB 2943 is co-authored by the full membership of California’s Legislative LGBT Caucus, including Low and Wiener, and is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, California Board of Psychology, California Medical Association, California Psychological Association and Consumer Attorneys of California, among other mental health, business and civil rights organizations.
The California Legislature acted decisively in 2012 to ban the use of “sexual orientation change efforts” on California minors (SB 1172 – Lieu, 2012), also sponsored by Equality California, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. Since two federal court challenges to SB 1172 failed and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the law’s constitutionality, 14 other states, the District of Columbia and at least 32 municipalities have banned this practice for minors, reaffirming a growing consensus that this practice is as harmful as it is ineffective.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org