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Last week, the California Senate gave party-line approval to Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99, a resolution demanding people of faith in the state change how they teach, preach, and counsel others related to LGBT identities and behaviors.

Authored by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-San Jose), ACR 99 condemns pastors, counselors, and religious workers who offer compassionate support to the fellow Californians struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion.

Most shockingly, ACR 99 goes so far as to blame the so-called “stigmatizing beliefs” of these individuals and organizations for the high rates of depression and suicide in the LGBT community.

Senator John Moorlach (R-Irvine) rose to warn legislators of the clear religious liberty implications of the legislation. He acknowledged that he does not support all of the counseling methods sometimes categorized as “conversion therapy.” But, “how can we foreclose on spiritual counseling when someone is on a journey and honestly inquiring about wanting to change and wants professional assistance?” Moorlach asked his fellow senators.

Sadly, other senators used ACR 99 as a platform to attack former LGBTQ men and women who seek to share their stories of life transformation. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) sneeringly called any efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity “psychological torture.” Jim Beall (D-San Jose) smeared faith-based groups as engaging in “mental health malpractice.”

Senator Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) implied change therapy discriminates against those who identify as LGBTQ.

“Until recently, the interpretation of the First Amendment was that one religion could not impose itself on other religions,” she argued. To say “one should have religious freedom to discriminate against others is a relatively new concept.”

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