New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Monday outlawing “conversion therapy” that purports to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian young people. We applaud Christie and his fellow lawmakers for joining California in taking this step and hope other states follow this example.
Along with treating homosexuality as a condition that must be “cured,” conversion therapy has proven to be pseudo-science of the worst sort, ranking alongside paranormal plant perception, reflexology or any number of other snake oil treatments that have wandered down the pike in the last couple of centuries. Predicated on the notion that sexual preference is not innate, conversion therapy has peddled outdated, discredited notions that young gay men are too close to their mothers and insufficiently close to their fathers. The Seattle Times reported this led the “therapists” to “do such things as have gay patients strip naked and beat effigies resembling their mothers, or to beat punching bags with their mother’s picture.” Other strange and barbaric practices allegedly included being struck with Bibles and being submerged in bathtubs full of ice.
Legions of individual therapists have condemned the practice, saying it can lead to suicidal thoughts and depression, and they’ve been joined by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers and other reputable medical organizations. On signing the bill, Christie noted that “on issues of medical treatment for children, we must look to experts in the field to determine the risks and rewards.”
Putting a stop to “conversion therapy” in all 50 states would not just represent a triumph for the gay community, but a victory for human rights and common sense.