California Moves to Ban “Conversion Therapy” for Adults

In the recently completed legislative session, the Washington State legislature passed legislation making it professional misconduct for licensed therapists to provide “conversion therapy” to a minor.  As a result, a therapist may help a boy become a girl but may not help a boy identify as a man if he experiences gender dysphoria.  Similarly, they can help a child embrace same-sex attraction, but they are forbidden from telling a child it is possible to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction, regardless of the wishes of the client and parents.

Supporters of this legislation argue that it is necessary because gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction are healthy and immutable. Therefore, any attempt to reduce or eliminate their influence in someone’s life is always harmful.

If it is always harmful to help minors with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, is it also harmful for everyone else as well?

A proposal being debated in California give an indication of what might be next.

AB 2943 makes it a violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act to advertise, offer, or actually provide services dealing with sexual orientation to anyone, regardless of their age.

If a man is married with children but experiences same-sex attraction, it would be illegal for a licensed therapist to help him reduce or eliminate those desires in an effort to help keep his marriage together.

The prohibition on advertising could have far-reaching implications as well.

Arguably it will be illegal to sell books in California that address issues of sexuality that include same-sex attraction or discussions about gender dysphoria.  It could also be illegal to share the thousands of stories of people who have reduced or eliminated same-sex attraction.  It does not appear that there are any religious exemptions in the law so it could foreseeably be illegal for a church to sell a book communicating biblical beliefs about sexuality and providing insights on how to live accordingly.

Anytime you have a conversation about this subject with someone who supports banning therapy, they will likely provide a list of progressive advocacy groups that once functioned as professional associations who agree with them and will cite the fact that they agree with them as evidence that they are right.

The argument is essentially this, “People who went to college agree with me, therefore I’m correct.”

If you point out the fact that there are lots of people, who went to college that disagree with them, they will inevitably respond by saying, “Well, the people with degrees who agree with me say they’re wrong, so I’m right.”

Do sexual desires and interests change? For thousands of people the answer is yes.  You can read stories of some of the many people who have walked that journey at Voice of the Voiceless and other organizations like it which share the stories of former homosexuals. 

These are the people proponents of these therapy bans say don’t exist.  Not only that, but this bill would make their stories illegal to share.

We need not answer the far more complicated questions of if, when, and how sexual interests change to be able to answer the far more easier question of whether people should be able to choose their own path in life. 

But in California, helping someone do that could soon be illegal.  Even if they’re an adult.

Because tolerance, of course.

 

 

WA House Passes Abortion Insurance Mandate

A blizzard of extremist social policy from the Washington State legislature seems to have ended Wednesday evening as the Washington State House of Representatives passed SB 6219 mandating that every insurance policy in Washington State cover abortions and all contraceptive methods.

It also makes it illegal to share the costs of the abortion with the insured through any form of copay or deductible.

The bill, which is strongly opposed by private businesses, religious organizations, and people who generally oppose coercion by government passed 50-48 with all the Democrats voting for it and all the Republicans voting against it.

The effort to exempt conscience rights was even closer.

A vote on an amendment that would have exempted religious employers and religious organizations ended in a 49-49 tie when Democratic Representative Mike Chapman sided with the Republicans to support it.  However, an amendment that ties fails to achieve a majority and therefore fails.

While the bill had been defeated three times in previous years, the passage of this bill following the Democrats retaking the majority in the Washington State Senate is yet another reminder that elections have real consequences in the lives of real people; particularly in the church these days.

While proponents of the bill frequently spoke about the importance of providing access to abortion, this bill was never about the availability of abortion but whether people with moral or conscientious objections to abortions should be forced to use their own money to pay for someone else’s abortions.

The Washington State legislature now says yes.

There were some changes made to the bill that are unrelated to conscience rights so the legislation will return to the Senate who would have to agree to the changes in a reconciliation process before it goes to the Governor for his signature.

You are encouraged to continue contacting your legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here to share your thoughts on these bills and how they have voted.

In the meantime, families who do not want to pay for abortions through their insurance plans may want to consider one of several Christian cost-sharing ministries.

They are not insurance plans, but they function similarly by allowing Christians to share the costs of medical needs as a community.  My family has greatly benefited from being members of Samaritan Ministries for many years, but there are other good options as well like Medi-Share.   In addition to lacking the moral problems of being forced to pay for abortions, those options are often much cheaper as well.

While those alternatives could be helpful for individual families, they may not prove useful for employers who are required by law to purchase health insurance policies for their employees.   That is why, if Governor Inslee ultimately signs this bill, litigation is sure to result and will likely take years to resolve.

Stay tuned.

#Resist

Therapy Ban Passes State House

The Washington State House of Representatives voted Wednesday afternoon to pass legislation banning “conversion therapy” for minors by a 66-32 margin. Sixteen Republicans joined every Democrat to pass it.

Proponents of the bill had long argued that it would protect children from torture that therapists would have used in an effort to make kids not be gay.

No mention was made of the fact that torture and coercion of any kind by a therapist are already professional misconduct.

The debate focused on the impact it would have on talk therapy.  Opponents of the bill pointed out that if a client requests a particular kind of help, the legislature should not prohibit therapists from providing it. Proponents of the bill argued that it is always harmful to tell a child that gender identity and sexual orientation can change.

The fact that people do change all the time was not discussed, nor were any exceptions made in the event that the minor requests the therapy.

The effect of the bill is that if a minor experiences gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction, the only legal option a therapist would have is to help that minor change their gender or embrace their identity as a same-sex attracted person.   The impact is particularly concerning in the gender identity context because  80% to 95% of children who experience gender dysphoria will outgrow it on their own.

As a result, the only legal option for a therapist in Washington will be to encourage a child in a direction they likely would not go in the absence of therapy.  If a fifteen-year-old boy desires to live life as a man despite experiencing gender dysphoria, it would be illegal to help a boy grow to be a man. It is unknown whether it is illegal to tell a minor with gender dysphoria that it usually goes away on its own.

While attempts were made to exempt licensed therapists who were ministers or were employed by churches, they were unsuccessful.  As a result, an ordained minister could be punished professionally for helping a minor live the life she wants for herself.

This is what tolerance and equality look like in Washington State in 2018.

Here is the roll call for how members voted.

Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

 

Tuesday Was A Tough Day in Olympia

Tuesday was a difficult day in the legislature.

Early in the evening, the Washington State Senate passed HB 1523, a bill that requires every insurance plan to pay for every form of birth control.

In broad terms, the bill requires that Washington State require every insurance plan to cover everything that was required under federal law as of December 31, 2016.

If it seems like a strange way to write law, that’s because it is.

Typically, if lawmakers want to do X, they say “we want to do X”.  They don’t typically say, “You must do everything they would have made you do back then.”  At the very least, it lacks clarity.

This bill enshrines all the federal laws, agency rules, and court interpretation from a particular date in the past as the new law in Washington State going forward.

The bill is essentially the Washington State Legislatures way of saying “We like everything Obama did around health care and we hate everything that Trump will do” without actually knowing what those things are.

The most controversial portion of the bill, however, is the effort to require every insurance policy to cover drugs that cause abortions and therefore violate the conscience of millions of Americans.

The Obama administration also passed regulations to force private employers to do things that violated their religious beliefs but Hobby Lobby sued and ultimately prevailed when the Supreme Court said that those mandates violated the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  As a result, businesses in the United States have had the freedom choose whether to pay for drugs that cause abortion or not.

With this bill, however, the Washington State legislature is saying that Washington businesses will not have the same freedom businesses in the rest of the country enjoy when it comes to exercising one’s conscience.

Unfortunately, the relief that was available for Hobby Lobby will not be available for Washington businesses.

The federal law that stopped the federal government from encroaching on the conscience rights of businesses owners does not restrict state action and therefore would not be applicable to this new law.

The bill was passed on largely party lines with Republicans Joe Fain and Maureen Walsh joining all the Democrats to pass it.

Still, litigation is likely to follow on constitutional grounds.

In a second debate that did not end until nearly one o’clock in the morning, the Washington State House passed SB 6037 which, among other things, made surrogacy contracts in Washington State legal.

Until now, surrogacy contracts were prohibited as a matter of public policy because the state had decided that women should not be able to rent their wombs for children for the same reason they are not allowed to rent their bodies for sex or sell their organs.

You can donate a kidney, but you cannot sell one.

There are some things the law allows us to do voluntarily that it does not permit to be done commercially because introducing a profit motive creates too many obvious and egregious opportunities for exploitation.

But early this morning we decided that doesn’t matter anymore.

Fourteen separate amendments were offered during the protracted debate including amendments that would have required:

  1. Intended parents to be married so that children who are sold through this process would have two parents;
  2. Surrogates to be citizens of the United States and a resident of Washington State so that poor, vulnerable women will not be induced into exploitative arrangements by the promise of quick money;
  3. Adoption like screening for intended parents to ensure that their homes are a suitable environment for children; and
  4. Limits on the number of children that could be purchased through commercial surrogacy.

Just last week a single, Japanese man was awarded custody of thirteen children he has purchased through surrogacy.  With this bill, he will be allowed to come to Washington State and pay for 100 more if he wants to.

Every amendment was defeated along party lines.

The supporters of this bill are excited because it makes it easier for adults to get custody of someone else’s child.

Same-sex couples, in particular, view their challenges with obtaining biological children as a matter of equality.  Since they cannot have children together, they are required to use someone DNA in order to have children.  Because the state has always recognized the right of a child to know it’s biological parents, severing parental rights and attaching them to another adult has always been a rigorous process.

We have always gone to great lengths to ensure that we severed parental rights only as a matter of last resort and created new parental rights with someone else only after those non-parents were determined to be able to provide a healthy environment for children to be raised in.

This bill makes it much easier to sever parental relationships and create new ones because it is more convenient for adults. In the past, the parent child relationship didn’t exist for the convenience of the adults.

Now it does.

The bill was passed on party lines with every Democrat voting in support of it and every Republican voting against it.

Both of these bills will now go to Governor Inslee for his signature.  He is expected to give it in both cases.

Momentum Building in Legislature for Helpful Amendments

This legislative session has seen a barrage of really harmful legislation be introduced and gain traction in the legislature.

Two bills, (HB 1523, and SB 6219) would force businesses, individuals, and possibly religious organizations to pay for contraception and/or abortion coverage despite religious and moral objections.

Another bill (SB 6037) would legalize surrogacy contracts in Washington State.  Mitsutoku Shigeta, a single man from Japan, was just last week awarded custody of 13 children he purchased through surrogacy in Thailand.  While this case has prompted Thailand to make it illegal for foreigners to come into their country and pay for children through surrogacy, the bill being debated would make it possible for him, or anyone, to do the same thing here in Washington State.

Another bill (SB 5722) would make it illegal for therapists to have conversations with minors about same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria in the name of stopping child abuse.  The only thing a therapist would be allowed to do is to help a minor change their gender or embrace same-sex attraction.

Each of these bills has momentum in the Washington State legislature, but with each bill there is a growing opportunity—if not to stop the bills entirely—to amend them to take out many of the worst parts.

Personal visits by businesses owners, therapists, and individuals who would be affected by the bills has helped lawmakers understand the harmful impacts of the bills.  However political realities incline many legislators to support them anyway.

That’s why they need to hear from their constituents to convince them that a good vote is also good politics.

Fortunately, that has been happening as well.  Significant constituent communications through phone calls and emails are making an impact, but they must continue.

While these bills are being exposed as bully tactics in one-on-one conversations, the special interests behind them have not stopped pushing.  That’s why it is so important that you continue to communicate with your elected officials and rally others to do the same. In many ways, those who are intent on taking away freedom and choice from decent people depend on the passivity of those same people.

As you communicate with legislators about these issues, encourage them to support amendments that would do the following:

Abortion and Contraception Mandates (HB 1523, SB 6219)

  • Amendment to exempt religious business owners from the abortion and/or contraception mandate.
  • Amendment to exempt religious organizations abortion and/or contraception mandate.

Contract Surrogacy (6037)

  • Amendment to limit surrogacy contracts to residents of Washington State and citizens of the United States.
  • Amendment to limit the number of children that can be purchased through surrogacy contracts
  • Amendment to require intended parents in surrogacy contracts to go through adoption like screening process before the contract can be enforced.

Therapy Ban (5722)

  • Amendment to exempt therapists employed by religious organizations
  • Amendment to ban aversive therapies like shock therapy and ice baths but not talk therapy.

These bills are likely to be voted on in the next day or two.  If you want your voice to be heard, the time to communicate is now.

To reach your legislators about this or any bill, Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.   Then forward this information to a friend.

Finally, if you appreciate this information and the opportunity it provides you to be a more informed, effective citizen, click here to make sure it continues. We can’t do it without you.

Man Gets Custody of 13 Children He Fathered Through Surrogacy

Tomorrow, the Washington State legislature will hold hearings on Senate Bill 6037 which would, among other things, make surrogacy contracts legal in Washington State.  Surrogacy contracts typically involve a wealthy individual or couple paying a financially disadvantaged woman to carry a child that she will give up at birth.

In a story that offers a foreshadowing of what could be around the corner, a Bangkok court just awarded a Japanese man full custody of thirteen children he fathered through surrogacy in Thailand.

According to a BBC report, twenty-eight-year-old Mitsutoki Shigeta, who is unmarried, paid $9,500 and $12,500 to nine different surrogates who gave birth to thirteen children.  Thai authorities suspected a possible trafficking operation but ultimately awarded custody after his lawyer argued that he simply wants a large family.

He has at least three other children through surrogacy in addition to the thirteen who were the focus of this case.

Through his lawyer, Mr. Shigeta has argued that he intends to care for them through full-time nannies and nurses and that he plans to send the children to an international school.  The Thai court granted custody after determining that he is sincere in his desire to care for them and has the financial means to do so.

All the surrogates waived their parental rights.

This case, which became known as the “baby factory case”, is one of the reasons Thailand made it illegal for foreigners to make surrogacy arrangements in Thailand.  India and Cambodia have banned commercial surrogacy for anyone.

Washington State, however, is moving in the opposite direction.

Senate Bill 6037 does the following:

  • Allows courts to enforce surrogacy contracts which means women can be paid to carry babies.
  • Requires courts to resolve custody disputes under contract law rather than under the “best interest of the child” standard.
  • Allows surrogacy contracts to be formed in Washington even if neither party is a resident of Washington State or even a citizen of the United States.
  • Provides no limits to the number of children that can be purchased through surrogacy.

The bill has already passed the Washington State Senate and is now being debated in the House of Representatives.

This issue pits the rights of adults to have children against the rights of children to know and be loved by their parents. It forces us to consider whether it is a greater harm for an adult who desires biological children not to have them or for a child to be cut off from a relationship with one or both of its biological parents.

Your answer to that question will likely determine how you feel about surrogacy in general and surrogacy contracts specifically.

Yes, we facilitate and celebrate adoptions as an alternative to the ideal, but until now have not encouraged arrangements that would separate children from their parents.

We don’t enforce contracts for kidneys or sex because we don’t want people selling their kidneys or sexual services. Do we want to see more children brought into the world who will be separated from their parents?

Are we ok with children being raised along with their fifteen siblings by nannies who are compensated by the trust fund of their single father?  Is that the world we want to live in?

While the Court, in this case, may have had no choice but to award these children to their biological father who is equipped to provide for them financially, the reason this story is newsworthy is that we recognize that the things most important in the formation of a person can’t be purchased.

While the children will be disadvantaged, dad reportedly feels good about it all.

If Senate Bill 6037 were to become law, Jeff Bezos could pay women to bear 1,000 kids for him if he wanted to. Once word gets out that Washington State is open for surrogacy business, perhaps Mr. Shigeta will come to Washington State to have his next dozen children.  There would be nothing to stop him.  During Senate debate, Sen. Anne Rivers proposed an amendment that would have limited surrogacy contracts to residents of Washington State but the amendment was voted down.

There’s a reason those who have experience with surrogacy contracts are moving away from them.  Putting the needs of adults ahead of the needs of children isn’t supposed to end well and it doesn’t.

If you would like to share your thoughts about Senate Bill 6037 with the House of Representative Judiciary Committee, go to the John L. O’Brien building on the Capitol campus tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. to let your voice be heard.

To reach your legislators about this or any bill, Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

“Political Issues” Don’t Exist and Why That Matters for the Church

If you haven’t said it yourself, you’ve definitely heard someone say it.

We don’t get involved in “political issues”. Churches say this all the time.

For Americans, it’s a polite way of breaking up with a conversation we don’t want to have. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

But there’s one little problem with this argument, there’s no such thing as a “political issue.”

There are economic issues, environmental issues, criminal justice issues, educational issues, and transportation issues, but there are no political issues.

That’s because politics is not a category of issues but a process used to resolve discussions about every kind of issue.

Is this semantics or does it really matter?

Here’s why this matters, especially in the church.

By creating an artificial line between things that are “political” and not political we create an excuse to avoid things we don’t want to deal with.  But is it a good excuse?  For Christians, the answer is “no” because for us the line that actually matters is biblical or not biblical.

God probably doesn’t care which side of the road we drive on, but He does care about how we understand marriage, human sexuality and gender.

Fortunately, no one who says “I don’t get involved in political issues” actually means it.

Many of the same churches that refuse to talk about marriage or gender are the first to talk about racial injustice or human trafficking—as they should.

But the church’s selective willingness to have an opinion or engage a conversation indicates that when we say “I don’t get involved in politics” what we probably mean “I don’t say things that people aren’t going to like.”

That sounds pretty bad.  That is pretty bad.

The result is as ironic as it is troubling.  In an effort to not be political, churches have committed themselves to the most annoying political habit there is; only doing things that we believe will be popular.

Yes, there is a balance in all of this.

We shouldn’t pick fights or be obnoxious, but we should stop pretending there’s honor in avoiding difficult conversations.

The church exists to help people deal with difficult questions, so let’s do that.  If we think we have the answer, let’s not be afraid to give some answers.

At the very least, stop saying “I don’t get involved in political issues”.  That’s not true and there’s no such thing.

This Week in Olympia

While American’s celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, the Washington State legislature will be reaching the halfway point in their legislative session.  February 14th is the date on which bills must pass the House in which they were introduced.  Bills that fail to do so are likely dead.

Starting February 15th, the House and Senate will both begin committee hearings on legislation passed by the opposite chamber.   The 2018 regular session ends March 8th.

There are two hearings scheduled for the 15th you should be aware of.  You are encouraged to attend and make your voice heard.

The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1523, which will require every insurance plan to cover all forms of contraception that were required to be covered under Federal law as of December 31, 2016.  The bill is very similar to Senate Bill 6219 but does not include the requirement that every insurance policy that covers maternity care also cover abortions.

There is disagreement over the degree of infringement on conscience rights represented by these bills.  Proponents claim that the Abortion Insurance Mandate would not result in a loss of conscience rights because RCW 48.43.065 protects the rights of individuals and businesses owners not do things that violate their conscience.   However, an Attorney General opinion has already stated that declining to offer every form of contraceptive constitutes an “unfair practice” and therefore would provide grounds for employees to sue their employers.

In an effort to provide clarity, Senator Steve O’Ban offered the following amendment to protect conscience rights:

The legislature recognizes that every person possesses a fundamental right to exercise their religious beliefs and conscience. No religious or sectarian employer may be required by law or contract in any circumstances to particiapte in the provision of, or payment for, a sevice or product described in subsection (1D) of this section if they objecto to so doing for reason fo conscience or religion.

The fact that this amendment was not adopted creates reasonable doubt regarding the sincerity of those who claim the bill is not intended to infringe on conscience rights.

Also on the February 15th, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 5598 which allows courts to grant child visitation to non-parent relatives over the objection of the parents. This bill is much narrower than other versions of the bill that would have allowed the court to grant visitation with anyone, but it changes the longstanding principle that fit parents are allowed to determine who their kids spend time with.

Two other bills are scheduled for a vote in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Friday. Senate Bill 5722 would make it illegal for minors with gender dysphoria or unwanted same-sex attraction to receive help from licensed therapists. Senate Bill 6219 would mandate that every insurance policy that covers maternity care also cover abortion and also require insurance policies to cover every FDA approved form of contraceptive, including those that cover abortions.  It would be illegal to require the insured to pay a co-pay or deductible for that coverage.

Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.   You are encouraged to do so at your earliest convenience.  Specifically, encourage your legislators to support conscience rights amendments on SB 6219 as well as HB 1523.

There is no doubt that the new leftist majorities in the legislature have prioritized some of the most radical social policies in the country.  If you want your voice to be heard, the time to speak is now.  Then pass this information onto someone else who also wants to know.

Silence is consent.

 

 

 

Elections Have Consequences: Abortion Mandate, Surrogacy Contracts, and Therapy Ban All Advance in the Legislature

The Washington State legislature continues to prioritize a number of radical social policies in the 2018 legislative session.

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 6037 legalizing contract surrogacy by a 27-21 vote margin. Several amendments were proposed but not adopted.  One amendment would have limited surrogacy contracts in Washington State to residents of Washington State.  This was an attempt to avoid challenges like those faced in Southeast Asia where the wealthy would fly in from all over the globe to take advantage of the surrogacy industry that developed there.

A second amendment would have prohibited surrogacy contracts with those who are mentally ill or have developmental disabilities.   It also failed.  This bill will not move to the House.

Over in the House of Representatives, two bills that were previously fast-tracked through the Senate had a hearing in the House Health and Wellness Committee.

Senate Bill 5722 would make it illegal for therapists to help a minor with unwanted same-sex attraction or identify with their biological sex. People who have been helped by the therapy at issue told the committee that conversations about sexuality and gender can be what some people need to find wholeness and overcome depression. Proponents of the bill testified that everyone who is anyone agrees with them that this therapy is always bad so they should pass it.

Senate Bill 6219 would force require every insurance policy in Washington State to cover abortion and thereby require everyone who purchases an insurance product to pay for abortions. Proponents of the bill claimed that it simply places the choice whether to have an abortion in the hands of the woman.  Opponents of the bill pointed out that it forces people who do not want to pay for other people’s abortions to do so.  Kim Wendt, a wife, mother, and veteran from Tacoma gave particularly compelling testimony that you can watch here.

No committee vote has been scheduled yet, but it is expected to happen within days and then move to the full House of Representatives for consideration.  Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.   You are encouraged to do so at your earliest convenience.

The timing of all this activity indicates these bills are a high priority for the current legislative leadership.

The contract surrogacy bill was one of the first bills the Senate took up after the committee cut-off had passed and the House hearing on the Senate Bills is a full two weeks before they would typically consider Senate bills.

More than that, however, these bills remind us that elections have consequences.

None of them are being introduced for the first time, but a recent change in the Senate majority has provided a window of opportunity to pass them that had not been available for five years.

If you are concerned about legislation like this, and you should be, think seriously about whether you are willing to do the difficult work of running for public office to stand for what is good, true, and beautiful.

While people engage in legislative debates in January, the reality is that for all intents and purposes, public policy is made in during elections in November.  We hope you are part of the effort to persuade those who are currently in office, but many of you have already learned the old adage that its easier to change faces than minds.  have already discovered that it’s easier to change who represents you than to change the mind of someone who is committed to different values.

If you are thinking of running for office yourself, would like to know what it means to run for office, or would like to be better prepared to help someone else run for office, sign up to attend FPIW’s 2018 campaign school in Bellevue on Saturday, March 3rd.

The engaging, fast-paced presentation will surprise you with not only how much you learn about running a campaign but also with how much fun you had doing it.

Sign up today and bring a friend.

Remember, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

To track all the bills that FPIW is following this legislative session, click here.