A new California law — coupled with an egregious attempt by those on the Left to ban books they deem inappropriate (note the irony) — is exactly why free speech advocates, ex-gays, and Christians are taking part in an upcoming Freedom March in the nation’s capital.
The event, to be held Saturday, May 5, at the Sylvan Theater in Washington, D.C., is being promoted as a “celebration of freedom from homosexuality and transgenderism” and is organized by a Manassas, Virginia, organization, the Voice of the Voiceless. Its aim is to “defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families,” according to the group’s website.
Luis Javier Ramirez, a survivor of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in June 2016, is expected to speak at the event. Ramirez found Christ in the wake of the shooting and will talk about his liberation from homosexuality.
The event will also shed light on AB 2943, a draconian law recently passed by the state Assembly of California that aims to insert provisions into the state’s “Business and Professions” Code.
“AB 2943 is the next logical step following the successful passage of SB 1112 in 2012, which barred sexual orientation change efforts, also known as ‘reparative therapy,’ for minors in California,” said Bill Becker, a free speech attorney and president and CEO of Freedom X, a nonprofit law firm in Los Angeles that supports conservative causes.
“The object of the prior legislation was to normalize homosexuality by criminalizing psychotherapy –– and even religious instruction –– designed to repress a child’s homosexual impulses,” he told LifeZette. “The new law expands on the prior law by banning SOCE [sexual orientation change efforts] altogether, not merely for minors. In other words — if you’re gay and desire treatment to become ‘straight,’ you’re out of luck.”
The proposed law AB 2943 is already creating havoc for some.
Summit Ministries, a Colorado Springs organization that helps Christian teens and young adults apply faith in their daily lives, has been forced to cancel an upcoming conference at Biola University near Los Angeles — which some analysts are calling an effort to limit free speech and the free exercise of religion, according to a press release on the ministry’s website.
“My policy is to fight hard against bad legislation but never to put kids in the line of fire,” Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, told Lifezette by email. “The California state government has created a hostile environment for Christians who teach a biblical sexual ethic. There will be harassment, smears and frivolous lawsuits. Our leadership isn’t afraid of that, but at Summit we need to create a trusting, safe environment so we can encourage our students to embrace the truth.”
He added his interpretation of the new bill: “Almost certain to pass, it will make it criminal fraud to encourage LGBT people to follow a biblical sexual ethic of chastity, and man/woman marriage –– if that message has taken place in the context of a financial transaction, say, a conference fee or a book sale. I know the bill’s sponsors are trying to downplay how radical it really is, but this is a shocking example of the ‘chilling’ of free speech.”
The aim of the bill is to, at least in California, sow even more seeds of confusion pertaining to sexual orientation, Myers maintains, while vilifying believers at the same time.
“Christians will have to think twice about sharing their beliefs with people who want spiritual guidance about their sexuality,” said Myers. “Junk science will increasingly become the basis of legislation that just a decade ago would have been considered totalitarian.”
“When it comes to homosexuality, the Left is definitely not pro-choice,” said Bill Becker of Freedom X. “AB 2943 threatens to punish the dissemination of any anti-gay expression, effectively barring biblical instruction and making Bibles unlawful to sell. This is because the Bible explicitly condemns homosexuality — for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26 and Revelation 22:15. And because the Bible explicitly condemns homosexuality, it is inherently at war with a secular culture advancing a relativistic view of morality.”
Unlike Myers, Becker believes the new bill will not pass muster.
“This law ultimately will not stand,” Becker told LifeZette. “Regardless of whether homosexuality is or is not a psychological disorder, the law would criminalize not just people seeking voluntary treatment, as, say, an alcoholic or drug addict might, but also those adhering to their religious convictions. In that way, it violates the First Amendment’s speech and free exercise clauses.”
Daren Melh, president of Voice of the Voiceless, said the event on Saturday will be “an opportunity for those of us who have a new life with Jesus to come together in fellowship and praise Him for the love and grace available to everyone who seeks it [and] to testify publicly of the life-changing grace available to leave the LGBT identity for something greater,” according to Christian Headlines.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.