We, the Bishops of the six Episcopal Dioceses of California, represent almost 150,000 people residing throughout the state. Our parishioners live and work in all manner of communities, ranging from small agricultural towns and secluded mountain enclaves to sprawling urban centers of tourism and technology. We are united in urging your support of AB 2943 – Unlawful business practices: sexual orientation change efforts.
Our presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, likes to informally call us the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. Inspired by our faith in Jesus, we join in solidarity with the LGBTQ community to urge your support of AB 2943. Central to core values of all Episcopalians are the promises we make at the time of baptism. The Baptismal Covenant expresses our life of faith in its fullness; it is our vision and our commitment, to ourselves and to the world. As part of this Baptismal Covenant we solemnly vow to respect the dignity of every human being. Respecting the dignity of all people means supporting them to live fully, self confidently and responsibly just as the God who made them and loves them created them to be. This means respecting our LGBTQ brothers and sisters as who they are, not trying to change them.
We are further inspired by a resolution passed during the most recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which met in the summer of 2015. Resolution 2015-DO28, states: “The 78th General Convention supports legislation banning state-licensed therapists from engaging in discredited and dangerous practices that try to change a person’s sexual orientation or force them to deny their gender identity.” AB 2943 offers precisely such legislation for California.
Were the so-called practice of conversion therapy simply ineffective as all credible mental health and other scientific experts have concluded, that would be reason enough to protect the public from it. However, as clergy, our concern goes beyond assuring appropriate medical and mental health practice. Sadly, we know that “conversion therapy” is spiritually harmful and has been used to demean and undermine many vulnerable LGBTQ persons, especially young people. We urge support of AB 2943 in order to prevent further damage to friends and neighbors whom we cherish, people who are a valued part of our churches, our homes, our schools and our workplaces.
Christian scripture calls all of us to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39) and to take action by treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves (Luke 6:31). Most other faith traditions follow similar precepts of love and mutuality. As Christians and Episcopalians, we are moved by our deep love of God and neighbor to speak out firmly against all attempts to change people’s sexual orientation. It is for this reason that as religious leaders we strongly support AB 2943.
Signed by the bishops of the six dioceses in California:
The Rt. Rev. Barry L. Beisner
Bishop, Diocese of Northern California
The Rt. Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce
Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves
Bishop, Diocese of El Camino Real
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Bishop Assisting, Diocese of San Diego
The Rt. Rev. David Rice
Bishop, Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
Bishop, Diocese of Los Angeles
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