New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto a bill that would make New Jersey the eighth U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto a bill that would make New Jersey the eighth U.S. state to legalize gay marriage.

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TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) Licensed therapists are banned from using conversion therapy to try to change a child’s sexual orientation from gay to straight under a bill Gov. Chris Christie signed Monday (Aug. 19), making New Jersey the second state to prohibit the practice.

But a national Christian legal group that blocked an identical law from taking effect in California earlier this year vowed to sue New Jersey, saying the legislation violates the First Amendment rights of parents and therapists.

The new law prevents any licensed therapist, psychologist, social worker or counselors related to these professions from using sexual orientation change efforts with a children under age 18.

Offenders jeopardize their licensed status under the new law, which does not apply to clergy, or anyone who is not licensed by the state.

In his signing statement, Christie noted many leading health organizations had determined such therapy was ineffective and harmful.

“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,” Christie wrote. “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

Christie, a Catholic, had publicly stated his opposition to conversion therapy because he said he believes people are born gay. Asked about the bill at a campaign event on Monday, the Republican governor would only say, “The signing statement speaks for itself.”

Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said his organization “will immediately file suit” at the request of New Jersey counselors and parents and national counseling organizations.

“The New Jersey governor is putting himself in every counseling room, dictating what kind of counseling clients can receive,” Staver said. “This bill provides a slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs.”

Troy Stevenson, who heads the state’s leading gay rights group, Garden State Equality, praised Christie. The bill will “protect young people from being abused by those they should trust the most, their parents and their ‘doctors,’” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said he hopes this “will lead to a further evolution” for Christie on same-sex marriage, which the governor opposes.

“It is our truest hope that the governor will realize … the best way to ensure our LGBT youth are protected from the abuse of being ostracized, is to provide them with equality,” he said.

The hearings on the bill draw angry responses from gay rights advocates, family groups and people who had freely used gay conversion therapy to lead heterosexual lives.

Arthur Goldberg, co-director of the Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, called the law “a tragic mistake.”

“There are teenagers who go to mom and dad and say ‘I don’t want to be this way,’ as long as voluntary and not coercive, what’s the problem?” he said.

Democratic State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, one of the bill’s sponsors, praised the governor’s actions.

“We aren’t telling parents how to raise their children with this law, we are acting to protect young people from abuse,” Lesniak said. “If adults want to make the decision to undergo this process, they can. But minors don’t have the same free choice.”

Mary Inzana, founder and CEO for Triad House in Ewing, one of three LGBT teen group homes nationally, said conversion therapy can have “destructive, devastating” effects on young people.

“One of the young teens we had in our care was previously told by his caregiver, that God did not want him to be gay. In fact he should ‘forget’ those feelings because he was being called to be a preacher of God’s word,” Inzana said.

“The daily pressure to change who he was in the core of his being, and live a lie became too much to bear. This struggle escalated into a psychiatric crisis which ended in a suicide attempt, and hospitalization.”

(Susan K. Livio writes for The Star-Ledger. Jenna Portnoy contributed to this story.)




        • Bollocks. What you people are proposing is barbaric and the real child abuse. You try changing the shift in your perspective and live it and see how far you get.

          And if a child, younger person has some confusion on such matters as most teens often do, then leave them alone to work through it themselves till they are 18 years of age. Interfering with their natural development is the true abuse. I hope and pray to God they fight this with everything they’ve got. I’d sooner rot and burn in hell than hand myself or any young gay person over to these barbarians. Not only do they use fear of some after life hell to manipulate but will condemn their own children to hell in this world too. This is disgusting. They won’t win. There is a God and that God has always been on the side of the oppressed and marginalised. So suck it up ‘conservatives’. Work on your own conversion. Starting with heart transplants.

          • Not treating a child who is confused psychologically is child abuse.

            As I said there are some methods that have been used that are inexcusable but the need for treatment still exists. These kids need help and they should be able to get it. I guess with laws like these the only place they can get help now is through churches and clergy.

          • There are 8 major international twin studies that illustrate clearly that people are not born gay. Since you believe in God, then you should realize that God himself is the one who has condemned the sin of homosexual acts and determined the punishment for it. Therefore, he is the one judging, since the creation of man, what the outcome will be for those who engage in this sin. And it is a sin.

          • as bishop tutu has said do you want to spend eternity wirh a god who is homophophobic or peple who hate you in this earth i am 75 and gay i would not want to spend my eternity with liberty counsel i pray they lose god loves everyone without exception gay straight transgengender my hearrt aches for young gay people in russia and if god is the essence of love why not can 2 humans of the same sex love each other it is far better than killing each other FREEDOM FOR ALL GLBT PEOPLE

    • “People can be transformed.” Yes, there’s a lot of that going on in Russia now, they’re being transformed into having been beaten or being dead.

      Same motivation.

  1. Licensed counselors are also banned from helping a person under 18 go from being bisexual to gay, or from straight to bisexual. Read the text of the law carefully. See: And see Wikipedia for our cultural definition of the term, sexual orientation.

  2. There is no “gay gene” in the human genome. This has been demonstrated many times.
    Therefore the gay way of life is deviant with respect to the Nature, probably due to complex psychological reasons.
    It is logical that the parents of a psychologically confused kid may be allowed to help their child to overcome that confusion and become back heterosexual.

    • And there is an increasing amount of evidence that sexuality is more fluid than previously thought which means environmental factors have a huge impact. Counseling kids who are confused before they fully develop is critical and necessary.

      • Nonsense Who the heck are you and sick Christians to decide something like this?
        It is none of your business and you all should stay the heck out of peoples lives and just worry about yours and the sins that you are creating for yourself by being judge and jury

    • You are not very bright
      How do you know?
      If people were not born gay how the heck can you say you were born straight?
      Just more of the crap people like you throw out without knowing what the heck they are talking about

  3. No one is born gay, circumstances in their lives, like molestation by a person of the same sex, or even a relative of the same sex, distorts the child’s understanding of who they are. in our times so much is being taught to kids about being gay and the gay lifestyle, that they are confused, for sure. When I was growing up we were not taught negatively or positively concerning people of that orientation. We were normal kids and did normal kid stuff and were not saturated with this nonsense.

    • I agree with Anita. When I was growing up, none of this stuff like abortion, sexual activities, etc were talked about. We went to movies and saw Roy Rogers and went camping and fishing, etc. I loved horses and we went riding. Our society was not saturating kids or anyone with sexual matters. I learned things as I grew up and had not hang-ups about it. Gay people had jobs and made no ruckus about their situation, either. I think our present society makes too much our of these issues and that is all anyone talks about. I blame society for all the problems we have today about sexuality.

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