The California Assembly bill banning gay conversion therapy and its advertising is a violation of the First Amendment, and should not be passed into law by the state senate, despite the dangers of the practice.
The law proposed by Evan Low, California Assemblyman and De Anza alumni, would ban “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”
Conversion therapy is mostly unrestricted in the majority of states, yet is discredited by leading names in mental health such as the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
Conversion therapy is much more than a method to change one’s sexual orientation. It is based on the false idea that expressing one’s identity is wrong, and that hiding away feelings and saving yourself from judgement is the best course of action.
But we should not limit the people who practice and advertise these methods just because it is a potentially fraudulent practice.
Although the Supreme Court mandates that advertisements should be granted fewer First Amendment protections than noncommercial speech, many products that provide a potentially harmful service to the consumer are only slightly regulated, and ads are still run.
For example, cigarettes are advertised everywhere, but they cannot run their ads without stating a government warning about the health risks smoking can cause.
In addition to government warnings, ads against smoking help restrict its influence on our culture. We should follow the same protocol when dealing with conversion therapy.
Rather than limit the advertiser, we need to advertise against it. Ending this practise should start with education, not limitation.
No one should have to endure conversion therapy, but limiting free speech is not the way to combat it.