The signing was quick, and the condemnation even quicker. Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill banning licensed therapists from trying to “cure” lesbian, gay and bisexual teens and forcing them to be straight. This is also known as ex-gay therapy.
The new law drew the ire of American Family Association mouthpiece Bryan Fischer who tweeted “It’s a crime to help troubled teens overcome severe sexual disorders. Forget 2016.”
Ex-gay therapy has never been proven to actually work, and the actual evidence is that it does far more harm than anything else.
Anti-gay groups cling to the idea that it works because it fits with their ideas that homosexuality is a disorder or a choice and that it is, somehow, wrong. Under certain interpretations of the Christian faith, homosexuality is considered a sin, but that is not a universally accepted belief any more.
The bill passed through the New Jersey Legislature with strong bipartisan support back in June with Assemblyman Tim Eustace, a sponsor of the bill, calling ex-gay therapy “an insidious form of child abuse.”
Survivors of ex-gay therapy are known to suffer from severe depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions common to those who have been physically and sexually abused.
Ex-gay therapy often involves psudoscientific attempts to cure someone that border on the homoerotic. Known therapies have included forcing the patient to cuddle with someone of the same sex, or shower with them, or to see the other same-sex individual naked.
Ex-gay therapy has also been known to rely heavily upon misogyny in order to “cure” people, often forcing men to beat up effigies of their mothers.
In a signing statement, Christie noted that he believes people are born lesbian or gay and that homosexuality is not a sign. This is in direct contrast with the stance that the Catholic Church takes. Christie is a Catholic. Unfortunately, this belief has not meant that he will bend on same-sex marriage.
The Associated Press printed the signing statement which reads “Government should tread carefully into this area, and I do so here reluctantly.”
Christie also wrote that “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. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”
Many of the theories relied upon by ex-gay therapy were developed in Germany during the late 1930′s and early 1940′s.
Lawmakers heard horror stories from victims of ex-gay therapy including one woman who underwent electric shock and induced vomiting to try and cure her of being lesbian at the age of 14.
They also heard from counselors who push ex-gay therapy claiming that there were teens who wanted to be fixed of being lesbian or gay, but noone who successfully underwent the therapy came forward to tell their story.
A recent ex-gay lobby event at Capitol Hill saw a grand total of ten people claiming to be ex-gays show up to lobby Congress. Close to three times that number of reporters showed up to cover the event.