TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) A South Jersey couple has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie for signing a law this summer prohibiting licensed therapists from providing gay-to-straight “conversion” therapy to children, saying it infringes on their rights to free speech, religion and to parent their teenage son “free from unconstitutional government interference.”

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.

A South Jersey couple has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie for signing a law this summer prohibiting licensed therapists from providing gay-to-straight “conversion” therapy to children, saying it infringes on their rights to free speech, religion and to parent their teenage son “free from unconstitutional government interference.” Photo courtesy Bob Jagendorf


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The unidentified parents sought conversion therapy on behalf of their 15-year-old son, who began “experiencing gender identity disorder when he was around nine years old,” according to the complaint, filed in federal court in Camden.

The teen has “frequently thought of killing himself because he did not like himself. … He remembers having a bias against the male gender and thinking boys were stupid because his mother talked negatively about his father,” according to the complaint. “He experienced feelings of despair because he believed that he would never be good enough if he remained a boy.”

In 2011, he started meeting with a licensed social worker in New York, who has “helped him tremendously” reduce his homosexual urges. The social worker recommended meeting with a licensed psychotherapist to delve into “the background causes” of his feelings.

The family contacted “one of the premier” conversion licensed therapists, Ronald Newman, to help their son, their attorney Demetrios Stratis of Fair Lawn said, but was told that the governor had signed a bill into law on Aug. 19 banning the practice.

Stratis is also representing the therapist, Newman of Linwood; Tara King, a therapist in Brick; the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality; and the American Association of Christian Counselors in a separate lawsuit against the state challenging the law.

Proponents of the law have said families could still seek conversion therapy from unlicensed counselors, such as clergy members, but the family tried that and had a bad experience, according to the lawsuit. The couple retained an unlicensed Catholic counselor “who did not seem to share the same scholarly view of the issues surrounding sexual orientation change efforts counseling as the many experts in the field.” This counselor only added to the boy’s stress and depression, the complaint said.

New Jersey is the second state to ban the controversial therapy. A nearly identical law in California was upheld on Aug. 29 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Supporters of the ban cite the American Psychological Association and other professional groups that say there is no proof the therapy works and that it may harm children’s perceptions of themselves and lead to depression and anxiety. “Research indicates that family interventions that reduce rejection and increase acceptance of their child and adolescent are helpful,” according to the association’s report on sexual orientation change efforts.

The complaint points out, however, that most of the research is on adults, not children.

Troy Stevenson, executive director for Garden State Equality, a civil rights group that advocated for the law, said his group is “committed to protecting this ban.”

“When we began advocating for this legislation, we anticipated a small but vocal minority would want to continue this horrible and abusive practice. However, every reputable expert in the world has disavowed the practice of sexual orientation change efforts,” Stevenson said. “It is vital that people learn to accept their children for who they are rather than subjecting them to disproven junk-science that does nothing but inflict horrific emotional damage on our youth.”

19 Comments

    • I guess you are still looking to have insurance cover your therapy, Frank. It won’t work. You are still going to be gay no matter how hard you try to pray it away.

          • Larry looking foolish is not helping you.

            There are some who are indeed ex-gay but most have simply not allowed sinful predilections to control their lives anymore. You might want to give it a try.

            Kids who are gender or sexually confused desperately need professional help. I hope they will continue to get the help they so desperately need.

        • It’s so sad seeing how anti-gays will post such vicious personal attacks, but at least Frank has demonstrated he cannot defend the fake “ex-gay” torture of LGBT teens.

    • The ban is in place because it does more harm than good. It worsens identity issues and causes children, teenagers, and adults who undergo the sessions to hate themselves in a vast majority of cases. Instead of treating it as evil and wrong and unnatural, why not help these humans work THROUGH their identity issues so they can decide for themselves who they WANT to be and to learn to be happy with themselves?

      Imagine if people were told they were evil for being born left-handed. It’s not their fault, so why treat them that way? (Fun fact: This used to happen.)

    • Hi Frank,
      This ban is not about free speech or “doing more harm than good” This ban is for licensed therapists only. It is designed to keep patients from harm. It is similar to other bans we have on quackery and patient abuse. As an example, a female can’t go to a doctor and have him cure her of hysteria with a vibrator at her husbands request. Blood letting and Lobotomies also come to mind.

        • Homosexuality is not an identity; it is simply a description of one’s sexual attractions. These kids are generally NOT confused, or if they are confused, it is by irresponsible religious people telling them that if they are homosexual, their ability to share, experience, and feel love is a disgusting perversion that will send them to hell. THAT is the problem.

  1. No, there are NO “ex-gays.” There is NO SUCH THING as “ex-gay.” Even the anti-gays themselves that cooked up this lie, “ex-gay,” now admit it was nothing more than a con job:

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-exodus-ministry-to-shut-down-20130619,0,2132827.story

    “A controversial Christian ministry devoted to changing people “affected by homosexuality” announced Wednesday night that it was shutting its doors after operating for more than three decades.

    The announcement by Exodus International came during its religious conference in Irvine and after its President Alan Chambers apologized to members of the gay community for “years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole,” the Florida-based ministry said in a statement.

    “I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names…. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine,” Chambers said in his apology.

    “More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.”

    Chambers said in a statement that the organization’s directors voted to shut down Exodus and start a new ministry that would would work with other churches to create “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.”

  2. Anti-gays in California went to federal court to try to revoke the California law that forbids using the fake “ex-gay” torture on minors. Anti-gays in New Jersey are wasting taxpayer dollars trying to fool another court with their lies about the fake “ex-gay” torture. Anti-gays will face hard evidence like this any time they try to fool courts into letting them torture LGBT teens:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/conversion-therapy-survey_n_3354253.html

    “In a new survey of people who have undergone a controversial treatment seeking to change their sexual orientation, a gay man described his eight-year marriage to a woman as a “scam.” Another survey respondent reported self-hatred, isolation, depression and flashbacks enduring long after the therapy was concluded. A third described an attempted exorcism.
    These are just a few of the hundreds of responses from those who shared their experiences with “conversion therapy,” or the gay “cure,” in this apparently first-of-its-kind survey. More than three-quarters of respondents said they quit “the ex-gay movement” because it didn’t make them straight. Twenty percent said they quit because of a nervous breakdown.

    “I saw that NOBODY was being changed, and some of those other guys had a lot more faith than I did,” one individual wrote. “The only ones I ever met who claimed to have been changed were the leadership. And one of them was always hitting on me.”

    “I tried to kill myself and ended up on the psych ward,” another wrote.

    More than 90 percent of respondents said they felt they were harmed in some way by the experience, and more than 80 percent said the harm endured to this day.

    “I had to re-construct my whole identity with precious little support. For years I felt like walking swiss cheese, like I had left my guts on the road,” one person wrote after a prompt to describe the type of harm the experience caused. Others reported shame, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, or difficulty in developing intimate relationships of any kind.

    In a question asking what good, if any, came out of the ex-gay experience, nearly 50 respondents replied, “None.” Others said it helped them come out of the closet fully, feel less alone, leave religion or meet a same-sex partner.

    “I suppose that I needed to see for myself that changing my sexual orientation was not possible, nor was it necessary,” one wrote.

  3. Here’s what the EXPERTS say:

    “In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA’s governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called “reparative therapy” which seeks to change sexual orientation.
    No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=8261359

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.