TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey state Senate passed a bill Thursday to ban licensed therapists from trying to convert gay minors into heterosexuals.
It now goes to Gov. Chris Christie, who has declined to answer questions about his views of the issue.
Supporters of the ban say that so-called “conversion therapy” is damaging to young people and that it is wrong to think that homosexuality is something that can or should be “cured.”
“The impacts of this kind of so called ‘treatment,’ both short-term and long-term, can be absolutely devastating to those that have been forced into it,” state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford, said in a statement. “This legislation is about protecting our children. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these kids and this practice must come to an end immediately.”
Opponents, mostly social conservatives, say the bill restricts what counselors can do and interferes with the rights of parents to do what they believe is best for their children.
The bill’s proponents say it would not bar counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and social workers from working with patients on issues related to sexual orientation, though they would be prohibited from having changing sexual orientation as their goal.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday on a 28-9 vote. The Assembly had already adopted it.
Last year, California became the first state to ban the practice in a bill that is broader than the one in New Jersey. But a judge halted implementation amid arguments about the law’s constitutionality.
Last week, the leader of Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International apologized to the gay community for years of providing the counseling and said Exodus would disband.
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