California Assemblyman Evan Low decided to shelf his bill to declare gay conversion a fraudulent business after intense pushback from religious folk.
Low, who is gay himself and the chairman of the legislative LGBTQ caucus, authored Assembly Bill 2943. The bill was meant to make paid “conversion therapy” services for adults considered fraudulent business practices. That said, his bill received major pushback from the Christian community.
According to the Los Angeles Times, some feared that the broad description of the bill would leave good-meaning counselors at risk.
“If I pray with this person, is that going to come back on this church?” said Azusa Pacific University chaplain Kevin Mannoia to the LA Times.
That said, the Sacramento Bee reports that AB 2943 would not have outlawed free religious consoling to change sexual and gender identity. The bill was only targeting paid services.
In order to better understand the state’s faith leaders, and avoid legal counter measures, Low went on a tour across the state to meet members of the clergy.
“I believe we are on the side of the angels on this issue,” Low said. “Having said that, in order to get it right, why wouldn’t we want to engage in meaningful, thoughtful, transformational relationships and conversations?”
Now earlier today, Low announced that he would be pulling AB 2943 from consideration while he works on editing the draft.
“I left those productive conversations feeling hopeful. I believe every person who attended these meetings left with a greater understanding for the underlying reason and intention of this bill to create a loving and inclusive environment for all,” Low shared in his statement. “However, I believe there is still more to learn.”
In California, forcing minors into conversion therapy is banned statewide, but Low thinks there’s still room for improvement. As such, he penned up the bill in question.
Being gay himself, this is a topic that Low feels deeply about. Low expressed as much in April when he introduced the bill to the California Assembly.
“I hid myself and my feelings because I was afraid of what others would think of me. This left me feeling very lost, scared, alone, and even suicidal. I wondered if I could change,” he said. “Yet, I am grateful my community embraced me as I was, a gay man. Many fellow members of the LGBT community are not as fortunate.”
It seems that Low is playing a slow but steady game in his fight for the eradication of conversion therapy.
That said, he isn’t fighting without compassion as he not only privately visited California clergy members, but also actively listened to them. As such, he’s now gained some favor among the state’s religious leaders.
Despite pulling his bill from the Assembly floor, Evan Low won this day.
h/t: The Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee