Gov. Christie Bans Gay Conversion Therapy
New Jersey became the second state to ban licensed therapist from “conversion” therapy on Monday after Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation banning the controversial practice thought to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian youth.
Becoming the second state after California to introduce a bill banning such therapy, Christie’s new legislation which passed both houses in June, is seen as a victory to both his campaign for re-election this November and gay rights groups hoping for him to endorse same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports.
Speaking against his Catholic faith, Gov. Christie wrote a note in adjunct to the bill stating that he “believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin.”
Christie explained the health risks involved with trying to change someone’s sexual orientation and said it’s “an area the government should tread in carefully.”
Gay rights groups voiced their support of the bill saying conversion therapy is damaging to youth by teaching them that being whoever they are is not acceptable, according to policymic.com.
The bill outlaws the therapy for people under the age of 18 and cites medical and psychiatric research that state sexual orientation is determined at birth.
“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.
The American Psychological Association has found that attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
Critics say the ban draws a fine line on being a parental rights issue by not allowing parents to do what they see fit for their children.
The practice of gay conversion therapy became an increasingly hot topic in 2012, after G.O.P. candidate Michelle Bachmann’s husband was accused of performing such therapy at the counseling center he owned, The Washington Post reports.
Christie, whose republican agenda was more evident during his veto of same-sex marriage last year, has said he is “‘adamant’ that same-sex couples deserve equal legal protection and vows to abide by a same-sex marriage law if the voters approve it,” according to USAToday.com.
The national Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBT group, applauded Christie and told USAToday “it’s good to see that we see eye-to-eye when it comes to the dangers of nonsensical ‘ex-gay’ therapy and treating all life with dignity.”
Gov. Christie has made several large legislative decisions lately making his supporters question his allegiance to the GOP and the conservative base. Recent bills passed by Christie include limits on assault rifles and a conditional veto on a medical marijuana bill.
The signing of this bill has drawn applause and criticism from all sides and will likely be a hot topic as Christie’s political career progresses.
GOP 2016 Presidential platform supports “religious freedom,” ex-gay therapy, traditional marriage and the bible taught in schools
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