By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California is on track to make conversion therapy a fraudulent practice.

It would be the first state to ban any organizations from charging people to change their sexual orientation. California already bans the so-called therapy for minors.

“If I tell you that if you eat this orange and you’ll grow a foot taller, give it to you for free that’s OK. But if I tell you that you can eat this orange and you’ll grow a foot taller and pay me for this, that is a fraudulent practice,” said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-San Jose).

And with that orange analogy, Low was able to convince the Assembly to pass his bill, making “conversion therapy” a form of consumer fraud; and outlawing any so-called therapy that aims to change the same-sex attractions of gay people.

“Should a church wish to talk about conversion therapy as a practice that works, they can do so But they can’t charge for it,” he said.

The openly gay lawmaker is worried that Californians are being tricked into paying tens of thousands of dollars for a lie.

“It’s indicating to a consumer that one’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed when really it can’t,” said Jo Michael of Equality California.

Jo Michael says that research is backed by major medical organizations.

“There are few (LGBTQ) people who have not heard that from someone at some time, as that’s part of the overall stigma they still face,” she said.

But religious groups aren’t buying it.

“For many people, it has worked, it has made them happy they say it has saved their lives. So why is the state banning something that people are saying is saving their lives?” said Greg Burt of the CA Family Council.

California church leaders took to the Capitol steps, praying for lawmakers to stop the vote.

“Actually this liberal leftist legislature and even the governor’s office that are pushing this kind of legislation are the ones that are destroying California,” said Pastor Franklin Raddish of Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries.

But the bill has received bipartisan support in the legislature.

And now heads to the Senate, before going to the governor, who has favored LGBTQ legislation in the past.

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