New Jersey may soon follow (but hopefully not too far) in California's footsteps by passing a bill outlawing so-called "gay conversion therapy" for those under the age of 18. After being disowned by former proponent Dr. Robert Spitzer, such conversion therapies are coming under scrutiny in New Jersey, where lawmakers are starting to wonder how strong the statewide stomach for bullshit pseudo-psychological practices really is.
According to USA Today, a bill outlawing conversion therapies (the preferred term among supporters is "sexual orientation change efforts") sailed through New Jersey's Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 7 to 1 on March 18. Now, like a star-crossed second-grade field trip bussed into the monument to architectural mediocrity that is Trenton, the bill is heading to the State Senate.
Gov. Chris Christie offered a tentative critique about conversion therapy, saying that, although he didn't have a "hard and fast" position on the practice of gaslighting a vulnerable teenager into believing that his or her sexual identity is somehow incorrect, he did say it could be an exception to his conservative mantra to "let parents parent." Opponents to the ban on conversion therapy often argue that being gay is a choice, and a morally destitute one at that. Such conversionists argue that the only way to stop a nascent leather daddy, say, from a lifetime of guilt and self-loathing is to let him know that being gay is a choice, just like picking whole milk instead of two percent. Pay no attention to the remorseful psychiatrist who wrote a year ago,
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some "highly motivated" individuals.
If lawmakers can't stop people from selling herbal bowel movement concoctions on late-night infomercials, it seems unlikely that they can stop gay conversion "therapists" from practicing some form of therapy — America is a land that will always be infested with charlatans. However, that shouldn't stop lawmakers from at least legally safeguarding the already addled teenage brain from conversion therapists with tenuous understandings of psychiatry and homophobic agendas.