Earlier this week, the California Senate passed a resolution calling upon all Californians—despite religious beliefs—to embrace LGBTQ lifestyles.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 (ACR99), introduced by Evan Low (D-San Jose), first made its rounds in the Assembly, where it also passed. According to the Blade, the resolution does not require the state’s Governor’s signature but does not have the force of a law.
The resolution calls upon “all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance, upon religious leaders to counsel on LGBTQ matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy…”
The bill also called out “therapists and religious groups” for creating “disproportionately high rates of suicide, attempted suicide, depression, rejection, and isolation amongst LGBTQ and questioning individuals.”
Though the bill intended to target “conversion therapy,” many religious leaders fear that the language in the resolution could infringe on their freedom of religion.
As previously reported by Christian Headlines, Russell Willingham, executive director of New Creation Ministries, said, “I believe ACR99 sets the stage for future laws that will criminalize pastor caregivers like me who provide such a resource—resources that offer an option for those who don’t want what the state is telling them they must accept.”
Supporters of the bill believe religious liberty has its limits with discrimination.
“Until recently, the interpretation of the First Amendments was that one religion could not impose itself on other religions,” Democratic state Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson said, according to the Christian Post. “[That] one should have religious freedom to discriminate against others is a relatively new concept.”
However, Republican state Sen. Andreas Borgeas disagrees, saying, “we are treading into freedom of speech territory that I think should concern all of us … When an individual seeks therapy or guidance before a religious leader, whether it be a mosque, a temple, or a church, that’s a private setting … To disallow or create the pathway where we tell individuals they cannot say certain things should give us pause.”
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.