New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is expected to sign legislation today which would ban licensed therapists from providing sexual orientation conversion therapy to minors. The bill was passed by the New Jersey legislature last June, with veto-proof majorities in both houses. With today’s expected signing, New Jersey will become the second state, after California, to impose such a ban:
“Government should tread carefully into this area,” he said in the signing note, which was obtained by The Associated Press, “and I do so here reluctantly.”
“However, I also believe that on the issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” Christie said, citing a litany of potential ill effects of trying to change sexual orientation, including depression and suicide. “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”
Troy Stevenson, of Garden State Equality, praised the governor’s move, and hope that it would be a first step toward Christie’s reversing his position on marriage equality. He vetoed a marriage equality bill in 2012.
Update: it’s signed, and Gov. Christie’s office has released the full statement:
Assembly Bill No. 3371, which I have signed today, prohibits individuals who are licensed to provide professional counseling under Title 45 of the New Jersey statutes from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation.
At the outset of this debate, I expressed my concerns about government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children. I still have those concerns. Government should tread carefully into this area and I do so here reluctantly. I have scrutinized this piece of legislation with that concern in mind.
However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. 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.
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.