Monday, August 19, 2013

Christie OK's Outlawing Conversion Therapy, With Reservations

This morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation banning the practice of gay conversion therapy on minors in New Jersey. First introduced in October 2012, Assembly Bill 3371“prohibits counseling to change the sexual orientation of a minor.” It passed both houses of the legislature with bipartisan majorities in June. With the Governor’s signature, New Jersey becomes only the second state in the country that bans this practice.

Previously, the Governor has stated that he opposes conversion therapy, and his action on this bill is consistent with his belief that people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin. From an interview with Piers Morgan in 2011:

Piers Morgan: Is homosexuality a sin?
Governor Christie: Well my religion says it’s a sin. I mean I think, but for me, I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so I think if someone is born that way it’s very difficult to say then that’s a sin. But I understand that my Church says that, but for me personally I don’t look at someone who is homosexual as a sinner.

From the Governor’s signing statement:

Assembly Bill No. 3371, which I have signed today, prohibits individuals who are licensed to provide professional counseling under Title 45 of the New Jersey statutes from attempting to change a minor's sexual orientation.
At the outset of this debate, I expressed my concerns about government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children. I still have those concerns. Government should tread carefully into this area and I do so here reluctantly. I have scrutinized this piece of legislation with that concern in mind.
However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law.

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