TRENTON — Reiterating his belief that homosexuality is ‘not a sin,’ the Republican governor of New Jersey signed a bill into law on Monday that bans the use of conversion or reparative therapy, or to otherwise help youth who are struggling with homosexual feelings to overcome their temptations.
Governor Chris Christie’s office released a statement during the day outlining that Assembly Bill 3371 had been signed into law following its passage in both state houses in June.
Text of the bill notes that the law bans “the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.” However, the regulation does not apply to counseling that seeks to affirm homosexual emotions or behaviors.
“[This bill] shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another, or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and does not seek to change sexual orientation,” it explains.
In signing the bill, Christie attached a personal statement explaining that while he wants to protect the interests of parents whose children struggle with homosexuality, he believes that efforts to help youth fight their inclinations can be harmful.
“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,” he wrote. “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,” Christie continued. “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,” he said.
A statement released by Christie’s office also reiterated the governor’s “belief that people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin.” It pointed back to Christie’s interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan in 2011.
“Is homosexuality a sin?” Piers Morgan asks.
“Well, my religion says it’s a sin,” Christie, a Roman Catholic, replies. “I mean, I think, but for me, I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so I think if someone is born that way it’s very difficult to say then that’s a sin. But I understand that my church says that, but for me personally, I don’t look at someone who is homosexual as a sinner.”
New Jersey is now the second state in the nation to ban counseling and therapy for youth struggling with homosexual feelings following California. Following the signing of the bill on Monday, the Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal organization in Sacramento, released a statement decrying Christie’s actions.
“Governor Christie is no friend of free speech,” said President Brad Dacus. “The question here isn’t if sexuality comes from birth or not; the question is ‘Should we allow the government to restrict religious and constitutional freedoms because a forceful LGBT lobby says we should?’ The answer to that question is a resounding ‘No!’”
Photo: Bob Jagendorf