By: Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, USDR
Family Research Council (FRC) today voiced disappointment with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to sign into law Assembly Bill 3371, which forbids licensed professional counselors in the state to “engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.”
A similar bill in California has been put on hold by the federal courts after its constitutionality was challenged in two lawsuits (now pending on appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals). U. S. District Court Judge William B. Shubb, in the case of Welch v. Brown, declared that “because it appears that [California’s] SB 1172 is content-and viewpoint-based and unlikely to withstand strict scrutiny, plaintiffs have established that they are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim that SB 1172 violates their rights to freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”
Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg made the following remarks:
“The New Jersey bill strips away a core ethical principle of the counseling profession-the right of the client to set his or her own goals for therapy. Under this bill, even if a young person, the person’s parents, and the therapist all agree on the goal of seeking a change in sexual orientation, the iron hand of the state will forbid it. This law tramples on the rights of minors, parents, and therapists alike.
“Gov. Christie has accepted a distorted view of what the research shows. There is abundant evidence that therapy can be effective in helping some people to achieve a personal goal of changing their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The claims of harm resulting from such therapy are, on the other hand, almost entirely anecdotal. And any weighing of risks and rewards must include consideration of the risks associated with homosexual conduct itself, such as high rates of depression and anxiety; high rates of tobacco, alcohol and substance use; a higher prevalence of certain cancers; and among men, high rates of sexually transmitted diseases.”
Connie Mackey, President of FRCAction PAC, made the following comments on the political implications of the governor’s decision:
“Governor Christie’s poorly informed decision not only undermines the rights of minors, parents and therapists but I predict that it will also ultimately undermine any of his national political ambitions.
“Values voters are looking for candidates who will lead the way to preserve the right to live out one’s faith. Unfortunately, Governor Christie has decided to join with those seeking to restrict the free speech rights of those deemed to hold politically incorrect views. His endorsement of this shocking invasion into the privacy of the relationship between therapist and client should cost him the support of libertarians as well,” concluded Mackey.