New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sent a strong message of support to the state’s LGBTQ youth Monday by signing a bill barring licensed therapists from practicing so-called conversion therapy on minors. New Jersey joins California as the second state to ban these harmful practices. Garden State Equality advocated for the law in the legislature and has been calling on Christie to sign it into law.
“The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientations can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts,” Christie said in a signed statement to CNN. “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”
A Catholic, Christie told CNN in a June 2011 interview that homosexuality is not a sin. “I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so, I think if someone is born that way, it’s very difficult to say then that that’s a sin.”
One of the most powerful testimonies at the senate committee hearings came from Jacob Rudolph (picture above), a high school student who had recently come out to over 300 students, staff and parents while receiving the “Class Actor” award.
Here is an excerpt of what Jacob told the senate committee (watch the full video is below):
I want to share my story with you so that you might understand that like every LGBT person, I am not broken, I am not confused and I do not need to be fixed…On January 18th of this year I came out to approximately 300 of my peers at a school awards ceremony. I received the award as “Class Actor” for having appeared on stage in various theater productions, but I made the connection that although I was acting in these dramas and musicals, I was also acting as being someone other than my true self by hiding my orientation. My speech expressed that I am who I am and that people can either take me or leave me or get out of the way because my sexuality will never be changed or cured. After I finished delivering my speech, my peers jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.
The video of my speech was posted online and has since received nearly two million hits. Of all responses I received, however, the ones that meant the most to me were those that were sent by five teenagers from various locations across the United States. Each of those five teenagers had something in common. They had made preparations to commit suicide before watching my video. After watching my video they all decided against it. Some of these teens had been rejected by their families who believed they had chosen to be gay and these families refused to accept them for who they are. It is beyond baffling to me that anyone would actually believe that sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice that can be altered if desired.
Even more disturbing, however, is that there are organizations whose sole mission it is to “cure” LGBT individuals of their sexual orientation through the truculent practices that have been deemed dangerously harmful and ineffective by the American Psychological Association and other meritable groups. What disturbs me the most is that our government would allow orientation conversion organizations to subject children to so-called therapy. It is hard enough for LGBT teens to accept that their orientation differentiates them from their classmates. Consequently, I cannot fathom how emotionally scarring it must be for these kids to be told that they are somehow broken and are then manipulated to reject their innate sexual preferences and become heterosexual again. What strikes me as the most cruel facet of this practice is that these young people cannot defend themselves from this harmful practice.
Watch the full video here:
The Liberty Council plans to file a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey to reverse the law.