Controversial bills remain on the docket for California Legislature
By Valerie Schmalz
When California lawmakers return for the final session of the state legislature there will be several bills dangerous for children and families on the docket, as well as affordable housing legislation supported by the California bishops’ conference.
The state legislature recessed July 15 and will reconvene Aug. 14 and adjourn its 2023 lawmaking session Sept. 14.
San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener continues his drive to legitimize transgender surgery and hormone treatments for children with SB 407, which would require all potential foster families to demonstrate their capacity and willingness to seek out any and all services for a “gender-expansive” child. This could include facilitating pharmaceutical and surgical interventions, noted Molly Sheahan, associate director for Healthy Families at the California Catholic Conference.
“SB 407 effectively institutionalizes a prohibition against orthodox Christians as well as other religious believers,” stated Noelle Mehring, who wrote an article (California Bills Keep Pride Marching Long Past June | The Daily Wire) addressing this push. She notes that last September, another of Sen. Wiener’s bills, SB 107, was signed into law. It allows minors to be brought to California against the will of the parent if it is for the sake of seeking gender transitioning.
A second bill before this year’s legislature is AB 957, authored by Assemblymember Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, would give preference in custody disputes to the parent who supports their child’s “gender identity.” Bill co-sponsor Sen. Wiener claims LGBTQ-identifying youth need this protection. In opposing AB 957, the California Catholic Conference states, “A parent whom the court acknowledges to be a loving, protective parent – who upholds the health, safety, and welfare of a child – and who has a conscientious conflict with gender transition or who struggles with their child’s transition should not lose custody or parenting time as a result.”
The California Catholic Conference also opposes AB 1432, introduced by Assemblymember Wendy Carillo, D-Los Angeles, which would require “out of state” health insurance plans to cover abortion, abortion-related services and gender transition. “…we cannot obey a law that would violate the very nature of our community committed to Christ’s love, and that would force us to harm human beings,” the Catholic Conference stated.
In addition, the California bishops oppose SB 385 introduced by Senate President Pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, that would allow physician assistants to perform abortions without physician oversight.
In a bright spot, the California Catholic Conference supports SB 4, aimed at expanding affordable housing options on land owned by faith communities. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Wiener, has a strong chance of becoming law. And AB 315, legislation attacking prolife pregnancy centers, was postponed at least until the second year of the legislative session in January 2024. The author of AB 315 does not plan to push the bill in 2024, but similar legislation is expected again and thus this remains a concern of the Catholic Conference, Sheahan said. It would allowed “harmed parties” to sue a pregnancy center for “false or misleading advertising” about abortion that is undefined, Sheahan said.
Other legislation supported by the Catholic Conference and worth watching includes SB 227 which would create an Excluded Workers Program to provide unemployment benefits to undocumented workers and SB 309 which would require correctional institutions to accommodate religious garb, headgear and grooming within certain restrictions.
To learn about all the major bills from the California Catholic Conference perspective, go here.
To take action, cacatholic.org/action-alerts.
Valerie Schmalz is director of the Office of Human Life & Dignity. Reach her at [email protected].