Dante Acosta, assemblyman for the 38th district, abstained over a controversial bill that would make sexual orientation conversion therapy illegal under the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
AB 2943 passed the Assembly by a 50-18 vote. It would classify conversion therapy products and services as unfair or deceptive business practices and outlaw “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
The CLRA already declares unlawful several “methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or which results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.”
Six years ago, California became the first state to ban mental-health providers from practicing conversion therapies on minors, according to factcheck.org.
Faith-based groups such as the California Family Council oppose the bill, fearing the state would ban books and counseling services, among other things, that state a religion’s view of homosexuality and gender orientation. Some people have taken to calling the bill the “Ban the Bible” bill, although factcheck.org said there is nothing in the bill that says so.
Still, Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) said in a statement that he has problems with the bill, which now moves to the Senate.
“I refused to support this bill. It has serious issues with religious freedom and free speech, and at the end of the day I will always side with religious freedom and freedom of speech,” Acosta said. “The author has signaled a willingness to address some of the most damaging elements of the bill, so I abstained in good faith that this bill can be amended in the Senate before returning to the Assembly. If not, I will oppose it.”
Acosta’s opponent in the 38th district race, Christy Smith, said she would have voted for the bill, but declined to comment on Acosta’s abstention.