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. Jalen

    Translation – "I think conversion therapy is a joke, but will not say so because that will annoy my base"

    March 21, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. tony

    A lot of people who claim to be cured from being gay are full of it, these same people were experimenting, it did not go their way and they became straight again, and became advocates for gay conversion clinics hypocrits.

    March 21, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Dan

    Trying to turn a gay person straight is like trying to turn a straight person gay. It ain't gonna happen. Just ask Michelle Bachman's gay husband.

    March 21, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Alexander

    I know someone who was put through the torture of conversion therapy. He was told that he would be killed by the government if they found out he was gay. In the weeks that follow he was electrocuted, frozen, burned, and told God abandoned him and hates him now. This isn't therapy. Its child abuse pure and simple. The politics are irrelevant, we don't allow people to shock their children's fingertips with electrified needles no matter the reason. It is a moral and ethical issue, not a political one.

    March 21, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. oldowl

    Conversion therapy is not debatable any more. It is proven to be A) totally ineffective, and B) is a known damage to many "clients," who are subjected to ridicule, driven to suicide, and C) some aversive therapies that are associated with malpractice such as so-called "reparation" therapy are based on false premises, not on scientifically acceptable criteria. No reputable, professional medical groups approve of this "therapy," such as American Psychologiical Association, National Association of Social Work, AMA; indeed, they find it unacceptable malpractice. It is on par with female g e n i t a l mutilation in some other cultures. Why would Gov. Christie have pause at all in signing a ban on malpractice, just b/c it involves s e x u a l abuse?

    March 21, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. jlg

    Funny, Buono says "his intolerance has no place in our state." Clearly she has no idea what intolerance means, give that her statement it self demonstrates her own intolerance. – common for Democrats in general who believe tolerance is about accepting ideas that agree with your own. Personally, I think that thoughtful consideration by both politicians AND voters is exactly why this country is in the state that its in. Congress fails time and time again to pass a budget, or in other words – do their jobs, however, the majority of these worthless career politicians will be re-elected – proliferating further their ineptness. Hey everyone, how about we try something new? Ignore party lines and actually think about what our politicians stand for and what they have accomplished – BEFORE we vote for them???

    March 21, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Mike

    It's not about being against the gay community...Christie has to take into consideration people's rights here. As dumb as gay therapy it sounds to people like me, you should have a right to practice whatever you wish in this country.

    March 21, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. sonnie3

    The whole boy on boy and girl on girl thing is being put forth by the liberal democrats as a good thing?
    The Good Lord Condemns such actions, but man has (if a liberal democrat usually) deems it as an ok thing??

    March 21, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. boyamidumb

    More BS to distract us from what is really important and what is really going on in Washington.

    They assume we are all fools, and we have done little to prove them wrong.

    March 21, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. MesaMax

    “H o m o s e x u al ” is a descriptive term, “gay” is a deceptive term. Why do people insist on using the deceptive term instead of the descriptive term?

    March 21, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine


    Did you see that even Ted Turners son says that CNN is liberally biased? You of course will not see it or read about it on CNN. Try Fox News.
    Oh, the pampered, spoiled son of a billionaire who couldn't beat a moral pauper like Mark Sanford complains that his father's network is biased, and that FOX News, the creation of the propagandist and criminal Rupert Murdoch, is the soul of objectivity? Please. Another rightie looking for affirmation, not information.

    March 21, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. LearnedBehavior

    You are not born GAY. Being GAY is learned behavior- yes even children learn that being gay is ok and accepted behavior. Thank GAY parents and garbage TV/Media for that. If you were born GAY we would have found the "gay" gene. Alas – no one has found the gay gene and never will just like they cannot find the missing link between humans and monkeys – it does not exist, therefore simple logic dictates you are not born gay. You can deny it all you want, but its not ok to be gay. Obviously there is something wrong with you if you compare human intellect to that of the animal kingdom – animals do not have the capability of rational reasoning – only learned behavior or instinct. But feel free to equate yourself to that of inferior mammals by all means.

    March 21, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. MesaMax

    Give h o m o s e x u a l s the chance to change. They have the right to improve their lives and do what is normal, moral, and correct. Leftist Liberals should not deny them that chance. Give them a chance!!!

    March 21, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Pan3

    Gay conversion therapy should be outlawed! Protect our children!

    March 21, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    Start with Marcus Bachmann, then.

    March 21, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Scott

    Those who say this is a "free speech" issue, does that mean my doctor gets "free speech" to tell me I have incurable cancer when I don't, or that my therapist can have "free speech" to say I'm suffering clinical depression if I'm not?

    March 21, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Former GOPer

    Listen Gov. The right wing hates you already. Why not reach out to moderates and do the right thing? It can't hurt.

    March 21, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. T

    ........Gay therapy is a HOAX..................and those that think otherwise.....................dont THINK...............

    March 21, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Nathan

    This guy is becoming more a politician everday.

    March 21, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. Michael

    It is too bad that Christie is not affected by this personally. It seems the only way people show compassion is when it affects them personally. For those of us who have know gay people who have been abused (and it doesn't matter if it is from strangers or your family : can he say incest .) we are disgusted by this Christie's inability to care for others for who this is personal..

    March 21, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Grinning Libber

    Crank science – easy call.

    March 21, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Greg in Arkansas

    "on bills that restrict parents' ability to make decisions on how to care for their children," about faith healers instead of doctors or "prescription" leeches instead of meds....daily "blood letting" like in the middle ages as a "cure all"
    but since most of the GOP is in the Middle Ages mind-set, nothing surprises me anymore...

    March 21, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Tim

    If they are going to allow gay conversion therapy then it needs to be regulated like every other medical practice. There should be no torture involved. How sick can people be. Also, when you tell a child that they will not be successful and that the lord doesn't love them, they take it pretty hard. This therapy could thoroughly destroy a persons self esteem and that may be why they are trying to ban it so we don't end up with a country full of self hating, gay, conversion therapy fail subjects.

    March 21, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    KarmaDub wrote:

    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.
    Michelle Bachmaann's family business made tens of thousands off of public money in their "therapy" clinics. They should pass a law banning pubilc funds to be used for this purpose, not bannng the practice.

    March 21, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. Kweso

    Christie needs to try the stuff first.

    March 21, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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