New Jersey has become the second state (California being the first) to ban so-called “conversion therapy” for those under 18:
“Ex-gay” conversion is widely discredited and refuted by major mainstream psychological groups, such as American Psychological Association. In June, the largest ex-gay group, Exodus International, closed its doors after its executive director Alan Chambers issued an apology acknowledging “the pain and hurt others have experienced” through failed attempts at conversion therapy.
Troy Stevenson, executive director of New Jersey’s LGBT group Garden State Equality, commended Christie for signing the legislation, citing the harm “ex-gay” therapy can cause.
“There is no greater achievement than helping to stop the abuse of our youth,” Stevenson said. “Today’s SOCE ban will do just that. It will protect young people from being abused by those they should trust the most, their parents and their “doctors.”
A similar bill is being challenged in the California courts as:
…”a slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights” of counselors and therapists who want to provide counseling consistent with their religious beliefs.
“This bill is so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested by the likes of Jerry Sandusky,” Staver added. “Counselors would only be allowed to affirm these unwanted feelings as good and normal.
The bill is limited to therapy with minors, and this article states that “The New Jersey legislation would not ban conversion therapy by religious counselors.” But does anyone really think the religious exemption will be long for this world?
I have so far been unable to find the text of the New Jersey bill (if a reader can locate it, please post a link in the comments), which would be helpful in understanding what’s really being banned here. Is it only therapy explicitly labeled “conversion therapy,” therapy which has as its stated goal the conversion of minors who identify as gay into ones identifying as straight? Is it only therapy initiated by parents for the children against the child’s will, or is a child him/herself banned from seeking such therapy? What if this is not the explicit goal of the therapy, but the topic comes up during the course of therapy anyway because the child brings it up? Is the therapist then only allowed to voice positive glowing recommendations of the gay life, or is the therapist allowed to say that being straight isn’t so very bad either, especially to a child who is still uncertain of his/her sexual identity at such a tender age? How much praise or negativity of the gay or straight life is too much? And of course, how will this be enforced, and what is the penalty?
It is no use pretending that therapy—and the licensing of therapists by the state—is not at least partly a political endeavor subject to political fashion rather than a science. Nor should therapists be completely unrestricted. For example, therapists are already prohibited from sexual contact with patients—even willing patients, even adult patients—because it is considered inherently exploitative. But the most harmful practices that could be used by conversion therapists (for example, electric shock) could be banned without banning the entire enterprise. And as the articles point out, mainstream therapy organizations have already condemned conversion therapy and do not advocate it.
But apparently none of that would be enough for the advocates of this bill; the therapy itself must be defined by the government as inherently and unfailingly abusive (what’s next, taking children away from parents who don’t applaud and celebrate their gayness?) As the nanny state grows, so will these essentially political moves by the government. This bill opens the door for a host of governmental abuses in which the state dictates the enforcement of politically correct thought through the mechanism of so-called therapy, and therapists become the instruments by which the public is indoctrinated in what is currently politically acceptable and what is verboten.