Ex-LGBTQ activists campaign against California bill seeking to criminalize attempts to change sexual orientation

A man dressed as the Statue of Liberty carries a rainbow American flag while marching in a gay pride parade in San Francisco, California June 28, 2015.Reuters/Elijah Nouvelage

Former LGBTQ activists and Christian leaders have launched a campaign against a controversial bill that seeks to ban any attempts to change a person's sexual orientation.

According to CBN News, California Assembly Bill 2943 would make it illegal for anyone to offer counseling services or direct an individual to a program that would help them deal with gender confusion and homosexuality. Additionally, it would also outlaw the distribution or sale of books and resources that suggest the possibility of changing a person's sexual orientation.

The California Family Council has collaborated with Equipped to Love, Capitol Resource Institute, and Faith and Public Policy to campaign against the bill, which was debated before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

As part of the campaign, the coalition has sent booklets featuring the testimonies of former LGBTQ individuals to every California Senator.

The group also gathered on the steps of the California State Capitol on Tuesday for an event called a "Day of Action," in which several "once gay" men and women shared their stories of how they were transformed after receiving resources and counseling.

Ken Williams, a former homosexual who now serves as a pastor at Bethel Church, said that biblical resources helped him when he was suicidal.

"I walked out of a Christian bookstore suicidal when I was 17 because they didn't have any books to help me. Thank God I found a counselor who was able to partner with me in my choice to not live according to my same-sex desires," Williams told CBN News. "We respect that not every LGBT person wants to leave homosexuality behind. But some do," he added.

A group of ex-gay individuals have come together to create a documentary called "Here's My Heart" to share how they overcame their struggles with same-sex attraction.

Edward Byrd, one of the men featured in the film, said he believes that people struggling with their sexuality can benefit from biblical resources.

"For me, who was trapped in the lifestyle of homosexuality, I didn't know I could have freedom. How will people know they can get out of this lifestyle?" he told CBN News. "I know people in the lifestyle now who don't know a way out," he added.

Jeffrey McCall, who used to live as a transgender woman, expressed concern that the pending legislation could prevent him from sharing his story. He said that he had been confined at a mental institution and had wanted to die when he was living as a transgender. "I know without Jesus Christ I would still be depressed and suicidal," he added.

AB 2943 has been approved by the California Assembly by a vote of 50-18. The coalition is urging California residents to send an email to the California Senate Judiciary Committee to share their concerns about the legislation.