Trenton, NJ, United States (4E) – Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed into law a bill banning therapies to convert the sexual orientation of minors making New Jersey the second state after California to outlaw the practice.
Liberty Counsel, a national religious-based legal and public policy group, immediately announced it will file a suit to block the law or A3371, which was passed by the state legislature in June. The group also sued California to block a similar law on grounds that its violates the First Amendment rights of parents and therapists.
The new law also affects state-licensed psychologist, social worker or counselors. Christie, a Catholic, issued a statement defending his decision to sign the bill into law. The governor cited the findings of the American Psychological Association (APA) that sex conversion therapy is ineffective and harmful. He said the therapy poses health risks to children such as depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
Christie also believes that being gay is inborn.
Mary Inzana, founder and CEO for GBLTQ group home Triad House in Ewing, cited the case of a teen under their care. The teen was pressured to change his sexual orientation and his struggle prompted him to attempt suicide.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), one of the bill’s sponsors, said the law intends to protect young people from abuse.
The state’s leading gay rights group, Garden State Equality, echoes Christie’s and Lesniak’s views.
Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Matt Staver , however,disputed Christie’s arguments and criticized him for dictating on parents what counseling they want for their children.
The Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing also opposes the law. The group’s co-director, Arthur Goldberg, said there are children who want to be counseled.