Kirsten Andersen


Therapists: Ask Chris Christie to veto reparative therapy ban

Kirsten Andersen

TRENTON, NJ, July 19, 2013 ( – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has given an uncertain answer about whether he will sign a statewide bill that would not only ban therapists from helping minors who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction but could cost parents who seek such help from pastoral counselors to lose custody of their children.

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is calling on citizens to contact Governor Christie and ask him to veto the bill, which was passed by the state legislature last month.

If signed into law, the legislation would bar counselors from providing minors with reparative therapy, which seeks to help people overcome sexual attractions to members of the same sex and move toward developing healthy relationships with the opposite sex.

It is similar to a ban that was recently passed in California, but temporarily blocked by a federal judge on the grounds that it may violate therapists’ constitutional rights to free speech. That case is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, the New Jersey bill goes further than the California law in that it would threaten parents who take their children to unlicensed (usually religious or pastoral) counselors in New Jersey or licensed counselors out of state with charges of “endangering the welfare of a child” and allow them to be investigated by child protective services.

That means that parents who seek help for their same-sex attracted children could end up losing them to the state.

“It isn’t too late to stop this,” the group said in a statement.

However, they also said they stand ready to file a lawsuit to block enforcement if the governor does decide to sign the bill.

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“Governor Christie does not believe in conversion therapy,” spokesman Kevin Roberts told the New Jersey Star Ledger in March. “There is no mistaking his point of view on this when you look at his own prior statements where he makes clear that people’s sexual orientation is determined at birth.”

Despite his personal feelings on the issue, Christie has made no promises either way on signing the bill.

“I'm of two minds just on this stuff in general,” he said in March. “Number one, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children,” he said, adding that he is “generally a skeptic of “bills that restrict parents’ ability to make decisions on how to care for their children.”

Still, Christie said, “there can always be exceptions to those rules, and this bill may be one of them.”

Gay activists have long accused reparative therapists of child abuse for their efforts to steer young patients away from homosexual urges, maintaining that sexual orientation is fixed at birth and cannot be changed.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is suing JONAH, a New Jersey-based coalition of Jewish reparative therapists, asserting that they are violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by falsely claiming they can help clients change their sexuality from gay to straight.

SPLC deputy legal director Christine Sun of the left-wing group has called reparative therapy efforts “shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken.”

So far, Governor Christie has not said whether he plans to sign or veto the reparative therapy ban. But according to his staff, Gov. Christie, a Republican, personally objects to the treatment, which critics often refer to as “conversion” therapy.


Governor Christie: (609) 292-6000.

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