David French has explained how Californian legislation to ban “conversion therapy” would ban books:
Wait. What? “Sexual orientation change efforts” are in the same category as consumer fraud? So, what is a sexual-orientation-change effort? According to the bill, it means “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” (Emphasis added.)
This definition is far, far broader than the traditional definition of so-called reparative therapy — the effort to change a person’s romantic feelings toward people of the same sex — it now includes efforts to change mere behavior. In other words, if for example, a sexually active gay man or woman sought counseling not to change their orientation but rather to become celibate, then the services and goods provided in that effort would violate this statute. If parents faced a child who was identifying as a person of the opposite sex, then services and goods making the argument that, for example, they should persist in calling their daughter “she” and withhold life-altering hormone treatment in part because most children exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria desist would violate this statute.
Rhode Island’s similar law doesn’t go quite as far in treating such activity as consumer fraud, but there’s still that problematic definition:
“Conversion therapy” means any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.
So, basically, if any individual in Rhode Island decides for whatever reason that the behaviors associated with his or her sexual attraction are unwanted, “any practices or treatments” to help that person achieve his or her desired result would be “conversion therapy.” If the state hasn’t been going after seminaries, it is only because officials understand that might create a backlash. The time is not right, in other words.
Not only does the legislation ban such services completely for minors, but anybody providing them or referring people to providers for adults would lose all state funding of every kind:
No state funds, nor any funds belonging to a municipality, agency, or political subdivision of this state, shall be expended for the purpose of conducting conversion therapy, referring a person for conversion therapy, health benefits coverage for conversation therapy, or a grant or contract with any entity that conducts conversion therapy or refers individuals for conversion therapy.
This is radical stuff, and naturally “referring” is not defined. If the Catholic diocese of Providence, for example, provides materials to people whose faith has led them to conclude that they should avoid same-sex intercourse, the state would have to ban any payments to the diocese for any purpose, no matter how unrelated or worthwhile. A grant to the Church literally to feed poor people? Sorry, that’s a grant to an “entity that refers individuals for conversion therapy.”
The fact that the legislators defined the practice as “conversion therapy” is telling. Any organization that attempts to “convert” individuals away from the state-established religious belief about human sexuality is to be excluded from all government activities.
Congratulations, Rhode Island. You might not be as radical as California, but you’ve instituted a theocracy nonetheless. Pray that your own beliefs remain exempt from the diktats of the clerisy.