TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill today barring licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight, making New Jersey the second state to ban so-called conversion therapy, along with California.
The bill passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature with bipartisan support in June. Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who sponsored the bill and is openly gay, described the therapy as “an insidious form of child abuse.”
In a note accompanying the bill, Christie said he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. That view is inconsistent with his Catholic faith, which teaches that homosexual acts are sins.
The Republican governor also said the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation, as identified by the American Psychological Association, outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice.
“Government should tread carefully into this area,” he said in the note, “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.”
Gay rights activists applauded the ban but pushed for more.