The California Governor’s Tar-Baby

Legislation awaiting the governor’s signature in California would make it illegal for parents to try to alter their children’s “sexual orientation.” The bill was introduced by State Senator Ted W. Lieu and is sponsored and supported by various gay right groups. It remains to be seen what Gov. Jerry Brown will do with it once it hits his desk.

Conservative and libertarian groups are strongly opposed to the bill, claiming it is a violation of parent and civil rights. The gay right groups, primarily led by California Equality, claim that efforts to reverse same-sex attraction in minors can lead to depression, feelings of shame, self-loathing, anger, and suicide. Few in California don’t have an opinion on the issue, which will make Gov. Brown’s decision that much more interesting. It is certainly a hot-button topic with far-reaching implications.

Matt McReynolds, an attorney for Pacific Justice Institute, opposes the bill because it “unconstitutionally prohibits speech…violates privacy and personal autonomy rights, intermeddles in theological disputes, clashes with other laws and creates significant unintended consequences.” Indeed it does. But as McReynolds is keenly aware, constitutional rights have very little to do with the intent of this bill. In fact, at the very heart of the bill is the point that in order for one group to be “free” (in this case, the children dealing with sexual orientation issues), others must be “not free” (the parents or guardians of said children). It is a clear case of the state interposing its own values on parents; it is an obvious example of the “nanny state.”

Once again it must be pointed out that this is precisely the sort of government-imposed anti-toleration that left-wingers accuse right-wingers of promoting. Liberals always claim the moral high ground of being about “freedom” and “toleration,” yet when the cards are finally laid on the table, they show very little desire to allow actual freedom to flourish. “Freedom” to them means to think as they think, to believe what they believe. Don’t waste any more time thinking for yourselves folks, the left has already done that for you.

Acknowledging this is the case, Senator Lieu made the following statement in defense of his bill:

“We intervene all the time to restrict the rights of individuals and parents regarding health issues. We pass laws saying minors can’t buy tobacco products; anyone under 21 can’t legally drink alcohol and we force parents to put their very young children into car seats while they’re driving.”

When the Senator says “we,” he really means “government,” and he is, of course, exactly right. The government does intervene all the time. And this is precisely the problem; it is certainly not a reason for continuing the practice. Government has no business telling parents what they can or can’t teach in their childrearing, just as government has no business forcing parents to buy a certain type of car seat for their child to sit in. It is not the government’s job to regulate the so-called health of the people.

Conservatives and libertarians have watched the mainstream media twist their own words and beliefs back on them thousands of times. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in California, seeing as how California is always a few years ahead of the rest of the country in its consistently applied nanny state social order. Gov. Brown has a “tar-baby” on his hands and the rest of us should be watching closely as to how he decides to shake it off.