TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Monday barring licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight, making New Jersey the second state to ban so-called conversion therapy, along with California.
The bill passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature with bipartisan support in June. Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who sponsored the bill and is openly gay, described the therapy as “an insidious form of child abuse.”
In a note accompanying the bill, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. That view is inconsistent with his Catholic faith, which teaches that homosexual acts are sins.
The Republican governor also said the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation, as identified by the American Psychological Association, outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice.
“Government should tread carefully into this area,” he said in the note, “and I do so here reluctantly.”
“However, I also believe that on the issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” Christie said, citing a litany of potential ill effects of trying to change sexual orientation, including depression and suicide. “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”
Gay rights activists applauded the ban but pushed for more.
“It is our truest hope that the governor will realize, as the majority of the legislature and a super-majority of the pubic have realized, that the best way to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth are protected from the abuse of being ostracized is to provide them with equality,” Troy Stevenson, executive director of the state’s largest gay rights group, Garden State Equality, said in a statement.
Christie previously vetoed gay marriage legislation. He has said he supports the state’s civil union law, which was enacted to give gay couples the benefits of marriage but not the title. Gay couples have since sued, claiming that the law provides unequal treatment to same-sex couples. Their lawyers say the U.S. Supreme Court ruling granting federal benefits to gay married couples strengthens their case in state court, while Christie administration lawyers say the federal government should recognize the state’s civil union law as the equivalent to marriage. A trial court decision is expected next month.
Gay rights groups say the practice of conversion therapy is damaging to young people because it tells them that it’s not acceptable to be whoever they are.
Some social conservatives framed the debate as a parental rights issue, saying a ban on the counseling would limit the ability of parents to do what they think is best for their children.
The idea of conversion therapy is an old one that has increasingly drawn criticism for its methods. Last year, four gay men sued a Jersey City group for fraud, saying its program included making them strip naked and attack effigies of their mothers with baseball bats.
Lawmakers heard horror stories from some during hearings on the ban, including Brielle Goldani of Toms River, who testified she underwent electric shocks and was given drugs to induce vomiting after being sent to an Ohio camp at age 14 to become straight.
But, they also heard from Tara King, a Brick-based counselor, who said she should be allowed to “fix” what patients, even under-aged clients, want fixed.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them