New Jersey governor Chris Christie is known for his anti-marriage equality views, but other conservatives seem to have forgotten that he signed into law a bill banning the use of “conversion therapy” for LGBT minors on August 19.
The bill does not in fact ban the therapy altogether; those over eighteen may still seek it out if they wish. However, this seems to have escaped the notice of detractors; Sean Hannity asked on his radio program, “Is there freedom of religion anymore, or is that banned in New Jersey?” then commented that it sounded like it “sounded like” the second option.
Liberty Counsel, a non-profit ministry and law firm, swore to fight the law in court, as it has been with a similar law in California. The group’s chairman, Mat Staver, claims that such a ban would harm children who want to be in therapy to eliminate same-sex desires stemming from past abuse: “The minors we represent have not and do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior. They are greatly benefiting from counseling… [this law]would essentially barge into the private therapy rooms of victimized young people and tell them that their confusion caused by the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser is normal and they should pursue their unwanted same-sex sexual attractions and behavior,” he said, according to ThinkProgress.
A spokesperson for the Fundamentalist Christian group American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, tweeted that the Christie’s signing of the bill into law “condemns gay teens to [a]lifetime of depression and disease.”
In contrast, Pandora’s Project, which provides support and resources for survivors of rape and sexual abuse, has pointed out that “the jury is still out” regarding what determines a person’s orientation. “Some claim that a man may become gay because he has been abused by a man and therefore identifies sex with men.
“In effect, this proposes that a female becomes a lesbian as she is so scared of men because she relates all men to her male abuser. BUT a male actually becomes gay, and hence seeks relationships with men, because he had a male abuser??”
The American Psychological Association (APA) has been against “ex-gay” therapy for decades, as study after study shows it does great harm and little or no good to those it purports to help. In 2012, the president of Exodus International, Alan Chambers, made headlines when he announced that such therapies do not work; in 2013, the organization shut down, and posted a public apology to the LGBT community.