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California 'conversion therapy' bill is a direct attack on people like me

Ken Williams
Ken Williams is a co-founder of Equipped to Love.

My childhood was shrouded in hopelessness and self-hatred because I didn’t measure up to the other boys, and I knew it.  I was envious of their prowess and, as a result, eventually pushed masculinity away. Every year seemed to bring more separation between me and other males, greater affinity with females, and a deep belief that I was undesirable. I was a failure of humanity. And that journey eventually included addiction to porn, compulsive masturbation, same-sex desires, and some sexual interaction with males.

For years I believed that even God hated me because of my behavior. But in my early 20s, I encountered a God (this same God whom I had served from early childhood) who loved me despite my sins and temptations. And as I dared to spend time with and draw closer to Him, I found Him to be deeply invested in my peace and joy. He was not at all the task-master I had made Him out to be. And that intimate place of connection with God led me down pathways that resulted in self-love, identification with my own masculinity, and sexual desire for the opposite sex, a new experience.  

Today, I love my life. I have been married to my beautiful wife for 13 years, and we have created four incredible children together. But a threat to my life-giving journey has now emerged from the California legislature.

To someone like me, California Assemblyman Evan Low’s proposed resolution, ACR-99, feels like an unfair and direct attack. I recognize that the authors of the resolution probably wrote it in an effort to protect people, those who identify as LGBTQ, but ACR-99 discriminates against those who are questioning their sexuality (the “Q” in LGBTQ), leaving them with no options to explore, only the pathway dictated by LGBT Pride. It also makes several inaccurate and harmful claims.  

1) ACR-99 lumps all sexual orientation change efforts into the demonized category of “conversion therapy,” which, therefore, infers that even benign and helpful modalities such as talk therapy are harmful. Professional therapists and religious groups played crucial roles in my journey toward identity and self-love. They were my guides into happiness and a sense of wholeness.

But with the implementation of ACR-99, realities like the following would become commonplace:  

Imagine a 12-year-old biological male who, after being sexually assaulted, begins to be plagued with thoughts that he is actually a female.  

If California’s therapists and religious organizations follow ACR-99’s directives, the prescribed treatment for that child would be a personal embracing of femininity and would likely include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, the surgical removal of his penis and testicles, and permanent sterilization. Should this child not be afforded a right to explore potential causes of his gender confusion and potential pathways that might allow him to reintegrate with his biological sex?

2) ACR-99 indicates that no therapy or help from religious institutions has proven helpful or effective for those desiring to walk away from homosexuality or transgenderism. Even the APA has made statements that directly contradict such a claim.

Last year, when California proposed bill AB2943, which would have banned therapy from those desiring to leave homosexuality, people came out of the woodwork to oppose it. And as a result, we know hundreds of people from across the country and around the world who were dramatically helped by religious groups and therapists. And most of them have gone public with their stories in an effort to protect others like themselves who also are needing help.

I left my six-figure salary almost 20 years ago to pursue a career in pastoral ministry simply because my Christian faith had so powerfully addressed my pain and transformed me. And today as part of a pastoral team who co-leads Equipped To Love (, we work with many people who have been part of the LGBTQ community who are unhappy and are looking for a different way forward. LGBTQ is not a solution for everybody.

3) ACR-99 singles out only therapists and religious groups as the ones to blame for stigma that LGBT-identified people have which leads to high rates of suicide. It was therapists and religious groups that specifically brought me and so many others (like those at out of our struggles with suicidal tendencies.

4) ACR-99 elevates government ideology above an individual’s right to religious freedom. With this resolution, individuals, leaders, and even therapists and religious institutions are commanded to embrace homosexuality as something to be applauded, giving no thought to potential ramifications to a person’s spouse, children, or to a person whose own religious or personal convictions do not align with that ideology.

Americans have been given rights to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The California government should not be usurping those inalienable rights. I encourage the California Assembly, the Senate, and the citizens of this state to oppose ACR-99.

This article is an adapted version of a previous blog post reprinted here with permission.

Ken Williams is a co-founder of Equipped to Love (a ministry to those impacted by homosexuality), is a co-founder of the CHANGED Movement (a growing movement of men and women who nolonger find identity in LGBTQ+), has been a pastor at Bethel Church (Redding, CA) since 2006, and holds a B.S. in Marketing/Finance. His greatest joys are his beautiful wife and their four incredible children.

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