New Jersey has joined California in a ban on conversion therapy.
Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Monday barring licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight, making New Jersey the second state to ban conversion therapy, along with California.
The move is the latest example of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate steering a moderate course.
The governor said the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation, as identified by the American Psychological Association, trump concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice. “Government should tread carefully into this area,” he said in the signing note, “and I do so here reluctantly,” reports SF Gate
“The decision marked another instance when Christie staked out a moderate position on a hot-button social issue as he seeks a second term in a Democratic-leaning state. It also offers more evidence that the popular governor is positioning himself as a pragmatist who shuns more conservative elements within his party.
“Christie found middle ground on medical marijuana for children when he agreed Friday to allow growers to cultivate additional strains, and for marijuana to be made in an edible form for chronically ill children. Last week, Christie vetoed a bill banning .50-caliber rifles that was vigorously opposed by firearms rights advocates and gutted a proposed overhaul of the state’s gun permit law. Recently, he signed 10 less significant gun measures the Democrat-led Legislature passed after last year’s deadly school shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn.
“In signing the conversion therapy ban, Christie reiterated his belief that people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin. Christie, however, has not moderated his position on gay marriage, which he vetoed and continues to oppose. Gay rights groups say conversion therapy damages young people because it tells them that it’s not acceptable to be whoever they are. Some social conservatives framed the debate as a parental rights issue, saying a ban on the counseling would limit the ability of parents to do what they think is best for their children.”