Today, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has announced he will be signing a bill that forbids the practice of attempting to convert a homosexual-identifying minor to heterosexuality via therapy. Already an outspoken opponent of the practice, Christie and New Jersey will be joining California as the second state to oppose gay conversion therapy.
The news comes in the wake of gay conversion giant Exodus International closing its doors a couple months ago, and issuing a heartfelt public apology for all the harm and suffering it caused through its practices.
Regardless of one's religious beliefs or social beliefs on this sensitive issue, Christie believes that "Government should tread carefully into this area, and I do so here reluctantly... 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."
Christie maintains an interesting record on the issue of homosexuality. Although Christie is a Catholic and affirms the Church's tenets in that regard, he feels that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual, and although he vetoed a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in New Jersey, he champions the anti-conversion legislation. "For me personally, I don' t look upon someone who is homosexual as a sinner," he has said on Piers Morgan.
CNN reports that the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association all oppose the practice, regularly denounce it and observe that "efforts to change sexual orientations can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts."
California's initial ban on gay conversion therapy is still being challenged in federal appeals court on First Amendment grounds. Previously not a major campaign issue, gay conversion therapy entered the scene through Michelle Bachmann's (R-MN) husband Marcus, who owned a counseling center that engaged in gay conversion therapy, in spite of denials that he was never involved in the practice himself.