ALBANY, N.Y. — The Democratic governor of New York announced on Saturday that multiple agencies within the state have taken steps to ban mental health facilities from providing help to homosexual youth to overcome temptation.
Andrew Cuomo, a homosexual rights advocate who has lived with his girlfriend Sandra Lee since 2005, called the practice known as conversion therapy “hateful” and decried efforts to change youth from “being who they are.”
“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” he wrote in a statement. “New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades—and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”
Cuomo’s office noted that while the state will ban efforts to help youth turn from homosexuality or gender confusion, the regulations will not apply to those who affirm homosexual emotions/behaviors or transgenderism.
“Conversion therapy does not include counseling or therapy for an individual seeking to transition or transitioning from one gender to another gender, that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of an individual or the facilitation of an individual’s coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, provided that the counseling or therapy does not seek to change sexual orientation or gender identity,” it explained.
Under the new regulations, New York State Office of Mental Health will prohibit facilities under state jurisdiction from providing treatment to youth, and the New York State Department of Financial Services will bar insurance companies from providing coverage for the services. The New York State Department of Health will also bar coverage through the state Medicaid program.
New York becomes the fourth state to ban conversion therapy following Illinois, California and New Jersey. As previously reported, reiterating his belief that homosexuality is “not a sin,” New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie signed a bill into law in August 2013 that banned the use of conversion or reparative therapy, or to otherwise help minors who are struggling with feelings toward those of the same sex.
“My religion says it’s a sin,” Christie, a Roman Catholic, first told CNN’s Piers Morgan in 2011. “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.”
The law was soon challenged in court, including by the parents of a teenager who desired help to overcome his struggles with homosexuality, but was consequently being denied from receiving it.
“[The unnamed teen] has a sincerely held religious belief and conviction that homosexuality is wrong and immoral, and he wanted to address that value conflict because his unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion are contrary to the fundamental religious values that he holds,” the lawsuit stated.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the law after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the ban.
Similar regulations have failed to pass in other states, including Colorado, Virginia and Rhode Island.