A bill which seeks to ban therapies
which attempt to alter a minor's sexual orientation from gay to
straight advanced Monday in the New Jersey Senate.
The Senate Health, Human Services and
Senior Citizens Committee approved the bill with a 7-1 vote (2
abstentions) after a tense 3-hour hearing.
Supporters of the therapy argued
against passage of the measure, arguing that it has helped thousands
of people alter their sexuality.
The measure is sponsored by Democratic
Assemblyman Tim Eustace, who is openly gay and has raised two
children with his partner of 31 years.
“I see it as a form of child abuse,”
Eustace told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Being gay “is not
an illness, so what are they fixing?”
The proposed legislation, which is
modeled after California's law, would prohibit mental health
professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts”
with a minor.
“Studies and personal testimony have
shown this practice creates irreparable harm on young people
struggling to come to terms with their sexuality,” said
Eustace. “Forcing someone to deny their innate feelings and
their very existence has led to depression, suicidal tendencies and
other untold harm. Leading psychological professionals agree that
this practice has no place in legitimate mental health therapies. I
hope New Jersey will join California in leading the way on standing
up to this harmful practice.”
The bill is being championed in the
Senate by Senators Raymond Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg and Senate
President Stephen Sweeney.