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'Gay Conversion' Therapy Ban Gains Support of More Than 112K Petitioners

Bill that would protect minors from controversial counseling techniques clears Senate committee.

More than 110,000 people have signed a petition calling for a ban on so-called "Gay Conversion" therapy that attempts to change minors' sexual orientation, and it appears their voices have been heard in Trenton.

The New Jersey Senate's Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted 7-1 Monday to advance a bill to the full Senate that would outlaw "gay conversion" therapy.

"The American Psychiatric Association has determined that the practice of counseling to change sexual orientation poses a great risk, including the likelihood or severity of depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior of those undergoing therapy," bill co-sponsor Sen. Raymond Lesniak wrote on his Facebook blog.

"This legislation seeks to prevent the harm done to children... from the practice of counseling to change sexual orientation. "

The Senate bill would prevent any counselor — psychiatrist, social worker, therapist, etc. — from attempting therapy to change minors' sexual orientation but would allow professionals to provide counseling that offers support and coping skills for minors struggling with their sexuality. Counselors who violate the law would face sanctioning under their professional licensing board.

The petition — with 111,863 signatures as of Monday afternoon — was launched by Parsippany High School senior Jacob Rudolph, who testified Monday before the Senate committee.

Rudolph, who came out in a speech in front of his classmates, said, "Perhaps the most cruel part of anti-gay conversion therapy is that these young people cannot even defend themselves from being subjected to this harmful practice,” he said. “I am not broken. I am not confused. I do not need to be ‘fixed.’ 

“I’m thrilled that the New Jersey Legislature is moving quickly to ban the use of anti-gay ‘conversion’ therapy on minors, and I’m incredibly proud that my story and my petition have helped give a voice to the young people harmed by this dangerous practice,” Rudolph said.

Jewell Kutzer, one of the nearly 112,000 to sign the petition, wrote "as an ordained minister, I find the practice of trying to 'fix' people who are gay to be scandalous. There is no justification for this practice in the health field or the religious field."

The Senate bill was initially introduced in the chamber in October, when it was referred to the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. It must clear both houses of the Legislature before heading to Gov. Chris Christie.

Andy March 21, 2013 at 12:15 PM
No government should allow child abuse - and that's exactly what "reparative therapy" has been deemed by every legitimate authority on psychiatric care and child health and welfare in the world. If the parents want to abuse their child and subject them to this evil, then they deserve the chaos that comes with it.
Eric March 21, 2013 at 02:22 PM
YES! If you are sexually attracted to the same sex, you are gay. It's doesn't matter if you act on those feelings. If you're masquerading in a heterosexual relationship, pretending to be straight, that doesn't change who really turns you on. Man, THAT must suck! I would lose my mind if I had to pretend to be attracted to men when what I am really turned on by is women. All because my family and friends are close minded bigots and I don't have the cojones to be who I really am.
BenDover1 March 21, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Doug: I have news for you. You are gay.
Steve Kenny March 21, 2013 at 03:25 PM
http://pfox.org/default.html
Natalie Davis March 21, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Steve Kenny, I was just looking at PFOX's site... the president is from NJ; I know the founder. PFOX is not a therapeutic group, though it has actively promoted and supported NARTH and religious-based reparative therapy. JONAH International, an anti-gay Jewish RT center founded in Jersey City has had cases of strange, potentially dangerous therapies reported over the years. The group is in operation and is in NJ, so it I believe would be affected by this law if passed. One note, and this comes from years working on this story as a journalist (I went undercover in one of these things years ago - http://ow.ly/jihWE ):. There are a relative handful of these places and they are spread out all over the country. Many are residentially based, so some conservative Christian parents send their gay kids away to "pray away the gay" sometimes for months or more. And many practitioners do so covertly under their own names; no one would know they are psychiatrists and psychologists doing RT unless caught by an investigative reporter, found by a certification organization, or ratted out by a parent or teen (which happens). So could it be happening in New Jersey? It likely is.

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