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The amended AB 957: A broken deal = a broken bill

Friday, July 7, 2023, 7:46 pm | Randy Thomasson


JULY 14, 2023 UPDATE: More time, so act today! The unconstitutional, anti-parent, anti-free-speech, anti-religious-freedom bill AB 957 didn’t come up for a vote in the State Senate prior to the Legislature adjourning July 13 (legislators return August 14). So, keep exposing and opposing AB 957 — see your action steps below.

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This is your opportunity! A “deal” to protect religious parents in AB 957 has been violated, and this bad bill is in trouble!

SaveCalifornia.com’s July 7 “Capitol drop” of hard-hitting facts provides the “road” for you to “drive on.” When you call to say AB 957 is still bad and why, they’ll know what you’re telling the truth.

Our AB 957 State Senate floor alert on July 7
(Written in liberal-sounding language that Democrats understand)


AB 957 (Wilson) – OPPOSE
A broken deal = a broken bill

AB 957 dishonors Judiciary Committee members and violates their public promises to require the bill be amended to ensure religious parents aren’t “dinged” in family court.

The July 3 amendments fail to protect religious parents, fail to honor the express will of committee members, and sully the reputation of the California State Senate.

Analysis of the July 3 amendment to AB 957

As amended, AB 957 continues to require “a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression” in order to avoid a family court judge disfavoring and denying custodial-parent status to a non-affirming parent.

AB 957 still discriminates against otherwise loving parents who have a sincere religious faith by declaring: “As used in this paragraph, the health, safety, and welfare of the child includes, among other comprehensive factors, a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression. Affirmation includes a range of actions and will be unique for each child, but in every case must promote the child’s overall health and well-being.” — AB 957’s July 3 amendment to Family Code §3011(a)(1)(B)

This amendment is double-speak. The first sentence instructs judges that health, safety, and welfare cannot exist for a transitioning child without the inclusion of “a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression.” Then, in the second sentence, it claims “affirmation” can mean other things, but then absolutely demands “but in every case must promote” a transitioning child’s “overall health and well-being” — words synonymous with the bill’s revised definition of health, safety, and welfare, which now “includes… a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression.” This creates a new requirement in family court that a custody-seeking parent must “affirm” the gender-transition of a child. Consequently, AB 957’s new edict “dings” religious parents who disagree with gender fluidity, threatening to deny otherwise good parents custodial-parent status and other custody and visitation rights.

In light of the absolute “affirmation” mandate and the severe lack of religious accommodation in the amended bill, the July 5 Senate Floor Analysis is misleading and inaccurate where it claims: “This bill does not compel the court to come to a particular outcome based on this factor or override the court’s discretion to reach a determination about the child’s best interest in light of all of the facts; it merely makes explicit the fact that affirmance of a child’s gender identity or gender expression is an important component of a child’s overall health, safety, and welfare which should be considered by the family court.”
On the contrary, AB 957 doesn’t say “affirmation” of child’s gender identity or gender expression” is “important,” but does say “affirmation” is required because the revised definition of health, safety, and welfare of a transitioning child now always “includes” verbal support – “affirmation” – of that gender transition. What’s more, in its amendment of Family Code §3011(a)(1)(B), AB 957 pounds in its exclusion of religious parents who disagree with gender fluidity by mandating “affirmation…in every case must promote” a transitioning child’s “overall health and well-being,” — synonymous with health, safety, and welfare, which now “includes… a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression.”
Senate Judiciary members on June 13 demanded AB 957 be amended to ensure religious accommodation – but the July 3 amendments do nothing of the sort

Senator Benjamin Allen: “This is an incredibly sensitive topic because the relationship between a parent and child is so sacrosanct…I certainly want to make sure that just because someone is religious, for example, and there’s nothing that they do as a parent that would impact the health and welfare and mental well-being of the child — they accept the child’s decisions but they struggle with it themselves – I would certainly want to make sure that person wasn’t dinged under a custody dispute in the context of this bill…I would like the author and the chair to spend some time working together on tightening up some of the language so that we can make sure that a parent — for whom we have no concern about impacting the mental health of the child, but who may have a personal, perhaps a religious, conflict with gender fluidity — wouldn’t be dinged if we don’t have a concern about their ability to be a good parent to that child. That’s my concern, I think, looking at this bill. And I know that there’s conversations happening between the author and the chair that I hope will be fruitful over the course of the next few weeks so that we can tighten up the language and get to a place that I think meets the goal of the author, while also addressing what I hear as the legitimate concerns of some folks on the opposition.”

Senator Anna Caballero: “I want to encourage you to continue the discussion, and I reserve the right not to support it on the floor if it doesn’t change — ’cause I think there’s challenges with exactly what does it mean. And I don’t think we want to send something to the court that causes confusion or wrong decisions.”

Senator Angelique Ashby: “I’m going to support you today, Assemblywoman Wilson, but I’m going to join my colleagues in asking you to work with Senator Umberg as Judiciary Chair on adding some clarifying language.”

Senator Tom Umberg (Chair): “We will continue to work to make sure that the bill, as interpreted by the court, will be done in a way that is consistent with your view and our view of public policy…We will continue to work to make sure that — Senator Allen’s point — that if you have a parent who — perhaps he has a religious belief that is not consistent with someone wishing to transition but is unconditionally loving and tolerant, that that doesn’t preclude that parent having custodial rights. Is that your understanding also?”

Assemblymember Lori Wilson (AB 957 Author): “Absolutely. And I think, with the language that we have, it would say that. But I get that there might be some lack of clarity that some of our senators, who I adore, have concern with. And I think there is opportunity for us to continue that discussion as a part of the legislative process…I will work with Senator Umberg, I will work with Assemblymember Maienschein, both heads of our judiciary system within our legislative bodies, to make sure that by the time this passes in the Senate and the Assembly and gets to the governor’s desk, that it provides the most clarity possible, allowable, without creating a checklist…but I am definitely open…for discussion and amendments.”

The amended AB 957 still “dings” religious parents in a custody dispute by failing to protect moms and dads who disagree with a child’s gender transition. In a free society, we must not punish these otherwise good parents by taking away their kids. Oppose the discriminatory AB 957.

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