March 21st, 2013
01:46 PM ET
9 years ago

Christie opposes conversion therapy but will he sign a ban into law?

(CNN) - A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that he "does not believe in conversion therapy" for homosexuals, but did not say whether the New Jersey governor plans to support a ban on the practice that's under consideration by state lawmakers.

"There is no mistaking his point of view on this when you look at his own prior statements where he makes clear that people's sexual orientation is determined at birth," Maria Comella, his spokeswoman, said.

Her comments come a day after Christie sparked headlines for saying he hadn't made up his mind on whether to sign the ban into law. And his Democratic challenger in this November's election wasted no time Thursday in attacking Christie for his lack of a stance on the issue.

"I'm of two minds just on this stuff in general," Christie was quoted by the Star-Ledger as saying at a press conference Wednesday. "Number one, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children. I don't – this is a general philosophy, not to his bill – generally philosophically, on bills that restrict parents' ability to make decisions on how to care for their children, I'm generally a skeptic of those bills. Now, there can always be exceptions to those rules and this bill may be one of them."

The paper reported Christie saying he never reads bills before they hit his desk for approval.

The bill – which was approved by a state Senate committee on Monday – would make it illegal for a professional counselor to "engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18." Therapy methods vary, but are often times associated with fundamentalist Christian groups who oppose homosexuality. Shock therapy is used in some instances.

Major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, oppose therapies that aim to treat homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Christie's rival in the election, state Sen. Barbara Buono, called Christie's hesitance at taking a position on the measure "disgusting."

"His intolerance has no place in our state," Buono said on a conference call, adding later: "The governor said he doesn't know much about gay conversion therapy. But I don't know how much more you need to know."

His remarks are simply a pattern of cowing to national Republicans, Buono alleged.

"I would have to assume that's guiding his judgment in this case. He's certainly being consistent anyway," she said.

Polls show Christie leading Buono by large margins, months ahead of November's vote.

Last February, Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed, saying the issue should be decided by voters rather than lawmakers.

On Wednesday, Christie reaffirmed his personal opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the Star-Ledger. He was asked whether Sen. Rob Portman's recent endorsement of same-sex marriage would force him to rethink his position.

"As far as how it affects my view, no," Christie said. "Because that question implies that somehow this is a political judgment and for me it's not."

Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. nothing new here

    Christie is going to play it very safe on this matter – he is being accused of being too moderate, by hardline conservatives, so he is definetely stepping carefully on this one.
    However, I am just at a loss to understand why any therapy center would be using shock treatments on minors under 18 years of age. I find that to be very troubling.

    March 21, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    If you're talking about using tax dollars to pay for it, then let me put it this way. If it is okay to use tax dollars to pay for converting gays to straights, then it is okay to use tax dollars to convert straights to gays. Kabeesh?

    March 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Wake up People!

    Ok I was watching Criminal Minds a few weeks back and they had one of these gay conversion places on there. It was crazy. Prostitutes being paid to have sex with children to try and turn them straight. The boys were forced to watch p0rn for hours on end. And this is acceptable to Christians??

    I think this gay conversion therapy is total BS. A person is attracted to whom they are attracted to, nothing can change that. If a man wants to be with another man why would any self-respecting female even want to be with that man? He may tell you and others what you want to hear but in your heart you will know it's not really you that he wants. Are women that desperate that they are willing to marry a man that deep down inside wants to be with another man?

    This should be banned. As for Christy he will do anything to get back into the good graces of the republikkkan party. Anyone that believes otherwise needs their head checked. He's GOP through and through, that I found out during the 2012 campaign when he appointed himself Mittens' attack dog.

    Too bad he had to turn around and ask the same POTUS that he had been attacking for help.

    March 21, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. dennis

    Gov. Christie. Join the 21st Century.....Sign the Law!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 21, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Luke Brown

    Conversion therapy is easier for a fat man becoming skinny than a gay person "converting" to heterosexuality.

    March 21, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Sam Adams

    Better use for cash being used for this type of so-called therapy would be to try to find ways of educating children against gun violence.

    March 21, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. HenryB

    Shock therapy for change one's sexual orientation and especially a minor? Are we living in the middle ages? This would be disgusting if true. Simply unbelievable that we talk about this. But to the Christian right this would be just the treatment. Funny how they have been laying low a bit. Their brand of caring for others proved toxic to many many Americans.

    March 21, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. John the Historian

    Christie looks like a mob boss who will surely lose in November. Republcians unfortunately will never forgive him for standing witht the president doing charity work in the aftermath of the hurricane. This teaparty hack deserves to loss. Republicans are not moving with the times and are too homophobic and racist for the majority of people.

    March 21, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Gay conversion therapy? Let me guess. Michelle Bachmann's husband is running the clinic.

    March 21, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. John the Historian

    Christie is only a mob party boss and is too homophobic to win in November. Let the teaparty die. Republicans are only for the rich, the military-industrial complex and the Christian Right. Republicans are doomed.

    March 21, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Rabbit hole

    Unsure? How could any rational human being support gay therapy? Oh, that's right, he is a republican, that would explain it.

    March 21, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. sjlucas

    Maybe, given the Governor's insight into medical/behavioral science, he should try leaches to solve his obesity problem. Just when you think a GOP might be living in the 21st Century, you get disappointed.

    March 21, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. RobK

    This isn't about tax dollars. This is about private dollars and personal choice. Even if conversion therapy doesn't work, people have the freedom to be duped. Otherwise, make a law against all the supplement manufacturers, and other forms of medical quackery.

    March 21, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Sly

    Ho ho ho – 'gay therapy'.

    If that works, the Christian Right will promote 'Muslim therapy'. (converts em' all to celebite Christians)

    Then 'black therapy' (converts em' all to white Republicans).

    Of course, we'd also need 'Red Sox' and 'Yankee' therapy to convert em' to Giants fans, where everyone belongs.

    March 21, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Alger Dave

    Libs will make this is a red meat issue. Christie is absolutely right to stand by parental rights. Why shouldn't a parent be able to get counseling for their child, regardless of what it's for. And if counseling a minor on sexual orientation change is illegal, is a pastor then also breaking the law if he preaches against homosexual actions from the pulpit and a kid hears it? If this bill doesn't make that illegal, then it's the next step right? Bills like these show the gay agenda for exactly what it is – an effort to quash free speech and association – anything that calls into question the legitimacy of the gay lifestyle needs to become illegal. It's already happening in Canada, where churches who preach against the gay agenda have to get special permission from the government to do so, or face fines and possible imprisonment. How long is it going to take to become a law here? The LGBT movement wants to take away your free speech – be certain of that. And free speech to them is anything that questions their legitimacy.

    March 21, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Bob

    How about a ban on ANY government money being spent on these phony and harmful "pray the gay away" scams. At best, they simply don't work. At worst they cause many young people to commit suicide. It is an outrage that Rep. Michelle Bachmann receives the bulk of her income from her clinic that gets most of its money from government reimbursement of their BS gay conversion treatments. CNN, don't continue chasing down Michelle Bachmann trying to get her to "come clean" or her many and repeated lies. She's a lost cause. Instead send a camera crew to her district. Interview the apparently ignorant voters that keep electing her. Show them some of her more infamous moments in Congress as she lies and demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of the Constitution, history, and basic science. Then ask them simply "How can you possibly vote for this woman? Have you no sense of dignity?"

    March 21, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. bob baden

    I don't agree with Goc. Christie in general, BUT I like the guy. Go figure. He's an interesting figure to watch but his apparent hatred towards gay people is old school. (I believe if you don't believe in equality for someone then you hate them.-very little grey area when it comes to equality with me). Nonetheless I like this guy I just wish he would pull his head out of 1970 and get with the times. We know you can do more Gov!!

    March 21, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Rob

    A former homosexual is suing California for having a law that prevents the right to choose therapy

    March 21, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. Alger Dave

    Good for Christie to stand on moral ground on the same sex marriage debate, and now hopefully on this issue. Its absurd to limit a parent's right to get therapy for their child. The LGBT agenda is shown for what it really is here – an effort to silence all that question it's legitimacy. Today it's therapy for kids, tomorrow it will be therapy for adults, or 'hate speech' (which in their mind is anything that disagrees with their agenda). In Canada preachers cannot preach against homosexuality from the pulpit without permission from the government. Do we want that here in the US? Believe me, that's where the gay agenda wants to take us.

    March 21, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. adl

    if its private money that funds these clinics than i really dont care its stupid to outlaw this

    March 21, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine


    This isn't about tax dollars. This is about private dollars and personal choice. Even if conversion therapy doesn't work, people have the freedom to be duped. Otherwise, make a law against all the supplement manufacturers, and other forms of medical quackery
    We already have the FDA. Just because we have the so-called "freedom" to be duped does not mean there should not be legal ramifications for people who attempt conversion therapy, a practive that has been likened to abuse and has not been encouraged by Mental health professionals for decades. Does this definition of freedom mean that we can continue Mengele's research into twins?

    March 21, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. KarmaDub

    How big of a problem is this? I am just curious how many children are subjected to "gay-cure" therapies, esepcially in NJ. I am also curious (and skeptical aboutl) about the use of shock therapy in such cases. Not regarding its effectiveness (I am sure it is NOT effective) but that anyone actaully does this in 21013; ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), as it is formally known, is a medical treatment, and not something an unlicensed therapist can legaly do in an office. My guess is if ECT was used to try to "cure" gays, it was done in the past.

    As a gay conservative (we exist!), I generally frown upon these types of laws. Gay cures don't work, period, but trying to legislate people into agreeing with that is IMHO not an effective ways to charge opinions. Instead of banning these "cures", which are largely religiously driven, we should educate and inform folks about their uselessness. For gay kids in conservative religious households, banning such therapy isn't going to make their journey to self-acceptance any easier; it will just save their parents some money.

    In answer to Rudy NYC, I don't think any of these "treatments" are covered w/ public funds – the medical establishment is decisively of the opinion that they don't work.

    March 21, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. nik green

    Gay conversion therapy? Does it work the other way around too? Can I get therapy to cure my right-handedness? Can my albino friend get therapy to be normal looking? Perhaps all who fail to conform to "normality should get "therapy"? What happened to all those non-conforming people in Germany, Poland and other parts of Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s? I guess even bone-headed quackery, like "gay therapy" is preferable to mass extermination, but the sentiments all come from the same place: Fear and hatred.

    March 21, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. Larry L

    Christie is unsure if he should come out of the political closet and actually leave the Republican Party. He's too intelligent to be a modern Republican and certainly doesn't believe the nonsense the bigots from the right-wing use as a litmus test for conservatism. Still, he hates to totally walk away from that part of his voting base. This would be a good time for him to be honest with himself and realize he no longer belongs in the Republican camp.

    March 21, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Randy, San Francisco

    Ban on gay therapy should be a no brainer. It has nothing to do with parental rights. Gay therapy is "quack" medicine from the Dark Ages.

    March 21, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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