Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation reaffirming the separation of church and state and clarifying the religious freedoms of clergy members in California. The legislation was authored by state Senator Mark Leno and states that no member of the clergy will be required to perform a marriage that contradicts their faith. IT also protects churches from losing their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform such a wedding.
Leno stated that “Before Proposition 8 passed four years ago, some members of clergy expressed concerns that their freedom of religion could be infringed upon if they were forced to recognize marriages between same-sex couples. While we do not believe clergy members would be forced to perform marriages that go against their religious beliefs, this legislation makes it absolutely clear under state law that churches and clergy members have solid protections when it comes to recognizing marriages. With momentum building in support of marriage for same-sex couples, and the Proposition 8 repeal case still working its way through the courts, we know it is only a matter of time before California will again have the freedom to marry, making this clarification especially necessary.”
The law is similar to several that have been enacted in other states.
Clarissa Fligioun, the president of Equality California, said “Some opponents of the freedom to marry have made misleading claims that religious freedom may somehow be infringed upon should same-sex couples be able to legally wed in California. We are glad that Governor Brown has signed this legislation to lay those claims to rest by codifying religious protections that are already guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Reverend Doctor Rick Schlosser, the executive director of California Council of Churches IMPACT, said “We are pleased Governor Brown has signed Senator Leno’s bill, which is essential to protecting our freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is as imperative that we protect the religious freedom to not solemnize marriages between same-sex couples for clergy and congregations who oppose it on the basis of their faith tradition as it is to protect the religious freedom of those who do support marriage equality. California Council of Churches IMPACT represents faith traditions on both sides of this question and this bill perfectly codifies legal protection for all our faith communities.”
Governor Jerry Brown also signed into law a ban on children being forced into reparative therapy.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights stated about that:
NCLR has worked around the clock for months on this lifesaving bill, authored by Senator Ted Lieu and co-sponsored by NCLR, Equality California, Gaylesta, Mental Health America of Northern California, Lambda Legal, and the Courage Campaign. Working with our co-sponsors and many other organizations, we helped build support for this critical legislation that takes effect January 1, 2013.
This legislation is one of the most important bills NCLR has ever sponsored. Since 1993, NCLR’s Youth Project has provided legal support to LGBT youth who have been damaged by psychological abuse and mistreatment at the hands of abusive mental health practitioners who tell these youth that who they are is bad, sick, and wrong. We have seen firsthand the terrible, lasting damage caused by these deadly practices. This law provides a powerful tool to make sure that therapists who abuse LGBT youth can be held legally accountable. And just as important, it sends a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families—telling them loud and clear that the state of California will not stand by while state-licensed therapists abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be “cured.”
NCLR is already working with state equality organizations and legislators across the nation to replicate this critical legislation. We will not stop until LGBT youth are protected from these dangerous practices everywhere in the country.
This victory would not have been possible without the dedication and collaboration of dozens of organizations and individuals, many of whom—such as survivors Ryan Kendall, James Guay, and Peter Drake—opened their lives and sacrificed their privacy to share the damage they suffered as a result of these abusive practices. In addition to the heroic efforts of the bill’s sponsors, special thanks go to the mental health organizations who devoted hundreds of hours to sharpening the bill’s language and educating the legislature and the Governor about its importance, including: the California Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (California Division), the National Association of Social Workers (CA Chapter), the California Latino Psychological Association, and the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies.