(USA TODAY) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Monday banning the
controversial practice of "conversion" therapy for gay youth. It is a victory
for gay rights groups that have long been trying to get the Republican governor
to reverse his position on same-sex marriage.
The law forbids licensed therapists from using therapy to try to change the
sexual orientation of minors. New Jersey is the second state, after California,
to ban the practice.
Christie said that while he is concerned about "government limiting parental
choice on the care and treatment of their own children,'' he sided with expert
opinion from the American Psychological Association that the practice can lead
to depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse in teenagers.
Christie is cruising to re-election in November despite New Jersey's
Democratic lean. But as a likely 2016 presidential candidate who will have to
appeal to party conservatives in the Iowa caucuses, Christie has walked a
careful line on gay issues.
Last year Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage law, saying he wants a
statewide referendum on the issue, and severely criticized the Supreme Court's
decision striking down a ban on federal rights for same-sex married couples. At
the same time, the governor said he is "adamant'' that same-sex couples deserve
equal legal protection and vows to abide by a same-sex marriage law if the
voters approve it.
Christie "did the right thing" by banning conversion therapy, Log Cabin
Republicans, a GOP gay rights group, said in a statement. "We may disagree with
the governor on the issue of marriage, but it's good to see that we see
eye-to-eye when it comes to the dangers of nonsensical 'ex-gay' therapy and
treating all life with dignity.''
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Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY