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Chris Christie signs ban on reparative therapy; Liberty Counsel promises to sue

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TRENTON, NJ, August 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Chris Christie signed a controversial bill that bans parents from seeking therapy to help their underage children reduce unwanted same-sex attraction today.

In his signing statement (reproduced below), he said he supported the “government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children” only “reluctantly.” However, he felt that “exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

Christie also signed a bill allowing children greater access to edible medicinal marijuana. Critics say medicinal marijuana has not been adequately tested.

In a press release that accompanied the statement, Christie said, “I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual,” quoting a statement he made on CNN. “My religion says [homosexuality is] a sin. But for me, I don’t” agree.

New Jersey is the second state in the nation to ban reparative therapy. Liberal Democrat Jerry Brown signed the nation's first ban in California last September. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the California bill in December on the grounds that it may restrict counselors' right to free speech.

The pro-family legal group Liberty Counsel is promising to sue to overturn the New Jersey law, A3371, which it says violates the First Amendment and could cause parents who seek such care to lose custody of their children.

Founder Mat Staver called the bill “absurd and dangerous.”

Under the newly enacted measure, parents who seek such treatment potentially risk losing their children to the state.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) warned, “If parents take their children to unlicensed counselors in New Jersey or licensed counselors out of state, they could, under this bill, be reported to the authorities for 'endangering the welfare of a child.'”

“This unnecessary and intrusive legislation will turn New Jersey into a nanny state by violating the civil rights of parents,” said Greg Quinlan, PFOX president, “especially when that child has been sexually molested by a pedophile like Jerry Sandusky and is now confused about his sexual orientation.”

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“Chris Christie is now putting himself in the door between the client and the counselor,” Staver told AFR Talk show host Bryan Fischer this afternoon.

Christie cited the American Psychological Association’s 2009 Task Force Report condemning conversion therapy. But Liberty Counsel notes the report “specifically states that there is evidence of benefit of such counseling, and any such reports to the contrary were only anecdotal.”

The association's condemnation of this disfavored means of therapy has come under fire from within its own ranks.

Dr. Nicholas Cummings, who was APA president from 1979 to 1980, said, “the stance that you can never change” sexual orientation or lessen feelings of same-sex attraction is “absurd.” However, the APA has itself changed, so that “by the late 1980s...cherry-picking results became the mode. The gay rights movement sort of captured the APA.”

The bill complicates the political future of Christie, as well. The outspoken governor became an early favorite of the nascent Tea Party movement for his attacks on unions. However, his social liberalism and increasing cordiality with Democrats – beginning with his embrace of President Obama shortly before the 2012 elections – has cause him to lose much of his support among the party's conservative base.

Rush Limbaugh said in June, “I will not be surprised, if when 2016 rolls around and Governor Christie is seeking the presidency, I won't surprised if he seeks the Democrat Party nomination.”

The bill's signing comes as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is suing JONAH, a New Jersey-based coalition of Jewish reparative therapists, for consumer fraud on the grounds that not every patient changes his sexual orientation.

Calls to JONAH about Governor Christie's actions were not immediately returned. 

Contact:

Governor Chris Christie
(609) 292-6000.
New Jersey Residents only: https://www.votervoice.net/NJFPC/campaigns/32919/respond

Christie's signing statement reads in full:

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.

Chris Christie
August 19, 2013

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