New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie has just signed his state’s ban on gay conversion therapy for minors. The bill bans so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy, and other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), which falsely purport to turn gay people straight.
If Christie had not acted today, either to veto or sign the legislation, the bill would automatically have become law. The bill sailed through with bipartisan super-majorities, in the NJ Senate, 28-9, and the in Assembly, 56-14.
“The bill passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature with bipartisan support in June,” WABC reports:
Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who sponsored the bill and is openly gay, described the therapy as “an insidious form of child abuse.”
Gay activists pushing the ban were uncertain what Christie would do.
In a signing note accompanying the bill that will be made public Monday, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin.
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 signing note, which was obtained by The Associated Press, “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 groups say the practice is damaging to young people because it tells them that it’s not acceptable to be whoever they are.
Garden State Equality (GSE) weighed in on the news.
“There is no greater achievement than helping to stop the abuse of our youth,” GSE Executive Director, Troy Stevenson, said in a statement sent to The New Civil Rights Movement:
Today’s SOCE ban will do just that. It will protect young people from being abused by those they should trust the most, their parents and their “doctors.” Garden State Equality thanks Assemblyman Tim Eustace and Senator Raymond Lesniak for championing this law.
We also commend the Governor for signing this legislation, and we hope he is true to his word. We hope that his realization, that there is nothing wrong with our LGBT youth – and that there is nothing about them that needs to be fixed – will lead to a further evolution. It is our truest hope that the Governor will realize as the majority of the legislature and a super majority of the New Jersey public have realized, that the best way to ensure our LGBT youth are protected from the abuse of being ostracized, is to provide them with equality. We must provide all NJ youth with acceptance, with hope for the future and yes, the promise of the dignity to marry the person that they love.
Christie took little time this past Friday to veto three gun control bills, including a ban on the most powerful weapon available to ordinary civilians, a .50 caliber rifle.
Image: Christie signing FY 2014 budget, via Twitter
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.