Op-ed: AB 2943 Awakened a Compassionate Giant

AB 2943 Awakened a Compassionate Giant

By Pastor Jim Domen

Last month I walked up to Assemblyman Evan Low, D-San Jose, and introduced myself as Pastor Jim Domen, a former homosexual who was transformed and now lives a life of heterosexuality. We both smiled and he said, “You’re about to see democracy in action.” We were standing in the front row of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He was there to present Assembly Bill 2943, which would ban “services constituting sexual orientation change efforts,” including therapy by licensed psychotherapists. I was there as an expert witness in opposition. Maybe Low wasn’t aware the United States is a republic? In the oath to our American flag we pledge “to the Republic for which it stands.” And I noticed in the Capitol the state flags read, “California Republic.”

In a republic, a constitution protects inalienable minority rights that cannot be taken away by the government, especially not by a majority party. By virtue of being inalienable, those rights can’t be voted on, only recognized.

This is the case of AB 2943, as the majority in California’s Legislature are Democrats who wholeheartedly embrace the pro-LGBTQ+ agenda. But above all laws are the California Constitution and the United States Constitution, each with a Bill of Rights.

I have an incomprehensible love and compassion for my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. I have dedicated my life to ministering among them and bringing them closer to Christ.

What I object to is when legislators attempt to remove essential tools for psychological therapy (applied to any number of sexual issues), and to infringe upon the individuals’ rights by specifically targeting a super-minority: “Formers,” the name given to former homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, gender-confused and those that were same-sex attracted.

Much of the opposition has focused on threats to religious liberty. That threat is real. What is often overlooked is the damage to those who desire therapy. This bill puts a cloud over proper, legal and regulated therapeutic remedies by licensed professionals – remedies that avoid the regrettable practices of otherwise well-intended practitioners using abusive and unproven techniques. But the bill also would remove individuals’ rights and target Formers by severely limiting speech and expression of thought.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from over 40 Formers who shared testimonies of successful sexual orientation change. Their change was real. This bill will hurt those who seek to change their lives under the guidance of a licensed professional therapist.

Unfortunately, prior to the hearing and outside the Capitol, the committee did not hear two hours of testimonies filled with stories of the suicidal thoughts and attempts and of the heinous sexual abuses committed against almost all the 40 Formers.

The committee ignored the over 500 people testifying in opposition. A Senate staffer told me, “That’s the longest line of opposition testimony I’ve personally experienced in my 14 years at the Capitol.” Said Sophia Bollag of the Associated Press, whose interview with Pastor Ken Williams was aired by ABC Sacramento, “This is the longest ever public comment hearing I’ve ever seen in the Capitol. It wasn’t a small minority of people who came here today – they came from across the state.”

Despite the 5-2 committee vote for the bill, I am thankful for AB 2943. It has hit a nerve. The government has extended its reach too far. AB 2943 silences a people – it promotes their non-existence. I’m hopeful it will not pass the full Legislature.

You’ve awakened a compassionate giant, willing to contend for our God-given rights. I lead pastors across this great State of California who respect and follow the God in California’s Constitution, whose preamble begins, “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.”

Jim Domen is a pastor and founder of Church United in Newport Beach