NJ governor signs ban on gay conversion therapy
TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) — New Jersey has become the second U.S. state to ban licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight, with Gov. Chris Christie signing a bill Monday barring so-called conversion therapy.
California, the country’s most populous state, already has banned the practice, which gay rights groups say is damaging to young people because it tells them it’s not acceptable to be whoever they are.
Some social conservatives say a ban on the counseling would limit the ability of parents to do what they think is best for their children.
In a signing note accompanying the bill, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. That view is inconsistent with the Republican governor’s Catholic faith, which teaches that homosexual acts are sins.
Christie also said the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice. He cited potential ill effects, including depression and suicide.
Gay rights activists applauded the ban but urged Christie to reverse his opposition to gay marriage, which he vetoed.
The conversion therapy bill passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature with bipartisan support. Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who sponsored the bill and is openly gay, described the therapy as “an insidious form of child abuse.”
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.
Brielle Goldani told lawmakers she underwent electric shocks and was given drugs to induce vomiting after being sent to a camp at age 14 to become straight.
Lawmakers also heard from Tara King, a counselor who said she should be allowed to “fix” what patients, even under-aged clients, want fixed.
Associated Press writer Angela Dellisanti contributed.