The bill, A3371, bans any qualified therapist, psychologist, social worker, or anyone “who performs counseling as part of the person's professional training for any of these professions,” from counseling anyone under 18 years of age with the intent of helping that person change his or her sexual orientation. Therapies and treatments that are prohibited, according to the bill's language, include “efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.”
Christie, who has promoted himself as socially conservative, explained that he signed the bill based on the recommendations of the American Psychological Association (APA), which insisted that its research shows such “conversion” or “reparative” therapy can lead teens struggling with homosexual feelings into “depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts.”
While claiming to have “concerns about government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children,” Christie nonetheless said “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law.”
Troy Stevenson, executive director of the homosexual activist group Garden State Equality, applauded the new law that will encourage youth to embrace homosexuality. “The best way to ensure our LGBT youth are protected from the abuse of being ostracized is to provide them with full equality,” Stevenson said in a statement. “We must provide all NJ youth with acceptance, with hope for the future, and yes, the promise of the dignity to marry the person that they love.”
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Photo of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: AP Images