New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today announced he will sign a bill barring licensed therapists from attempting to turn gay people straight. New Jersey would be the second state, along with California, to ban so-called conversion therapy.
The bill passed both the New Jersey Legislature in June with bipartisan support. Openly gay Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who sponsored the bill called the therapy “an insidious form of child abuse.”
Though Catholic, Christie wrote in his announcement that 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. He also said the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice.
“Government should tread carefully into this area, and I do so here reluctantly,” the Republican governor wrote. “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 pointed to a number of issues with the controversial therapies, 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,” he wrote
Christie earlier vetoed gay marriage legislation, saying he supports the state’s civil union law, which was enacted to give gay couples the benefits of marriage but not the title.
Social conservatives called the therapies a parental rights issue, a said a ban would limit the ability of parents to do what they think is best for their children.
Four gay men sued a Jersey City, N.J., group last year for fraud, saying its program included making them strip naked and attack effigies of their mothers with baseball bats. Brielle Goldani testified that she underwent electric shock therapy and was given drugs to induce vomiting at age 14 to become straight.