Bill Banning Reparative Therapy in N.J. Approved by Assembly

Prohibits Licensed Therapists from Performing Conversion Therapy on Minors

An Assembly panel, The Women and Children’s Committee, in the New Jersey State Legislature on June 13, 2013, has approved a measure that disallows licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy on any person under the age of 18 – even with parental permission, The bill will next go to the Assembly and Senate for votes.

Late last month, the N.J. Senate was due to vote on the measure, but the vote was held up so some unspecified changes that could be made to the legislation.  The measure is backed by the American Psychological Association and is expected to be approved by Governor Christie.

Controversial practice, but Still an Option for Many Minors

Last year, four gay men said that their gay-to-straight program included making them strip naked and attack effigies of their mothers with bats.  They have sued a Jersey City group.

The state legislature in California passed a similar bill that was signed into law in September by Governor Jerry Brown.  A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, placed the law on hold until it can consider a challenge to the issue –that the ban violates the First Amendment rights of therapists and parents. “The law is an astounding overreach by the government into the realm of counseling and would have caused irreparable harm, “said Matt Saver, the chairman of a right-wing organization that challenged the California law.

Opponents of conversion therapy say banning the practice is having the government intervene in the lives of parents and children. They believe that the states should focus instead on educating parents and children on why therapy is harmful instead of outlawing it and creating a network of unlicensed therapists. “Banning it may simply drive it underground, where it won’t even be subject to state regulation or limited to therapists who are licensed,” argues Christopher Ferguson, associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A & M International University.”

Although homosexual was removed in 1973 from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, many people still believed that reparative therapy was a solution for gay and lesbian people who wanted to change their sexual orientation.

The practice has drawn criticism from professional organization, yet states have been hesitant to ban the practice for minors.

Horror Tales From Conversion Campers

One such critic is Jason Utley. At twenty-five, he began attending a support group in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Evergreen, “helped people diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior.” A Mormon, Utley spent two years in the group and eventually left to pursue a relationship with another man.

His group was given prescriptive medicine for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia to treat what was regarded as an “addiction.” Utley didn’t take the medicine, but was talked into believing he’d been molested as a child, a reason for his same-gender attraction. The men were not allowed to see each other outside of Evergreen.

Like the other Evergreen members, Utley saw simultaneously licensed therapists who had been recommended by both the group and by officials of the Mormon Church.  Utley left the Church in 2006, after his two -year struggle to change his identity. As he states, “why depend on something with such little-documented success?”




Conversion Therapy for N.J. Gay Youth May be a No-No Soon.

Bill Advanced to Senate

On March 17, 2013, New Jersey’s State Senate Committee heard testimony from LGBT activist Troy Stevenson who spoke about the suicide of an individual who had tried conversion therapy which purports to fix homosexuals and convert them to heterosexuality. The Committee also heard from organizations which support young LGBT people on the dangers of conversion therapy, especially for minors. One woman recounted how she had been subject to electric shocks during conversion therapy.

Measure A3371

The bill A3371 being considered in the Senate would prohibit licensed therapists from performing controversial therapy aimed at converting minors from gay to heterosexual.  The Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee moves the bill to the Senate.  Backed by the American Psychological Association’s research, the legislation, if passed, would prohibit counseling for any person under the age of eighteen, that seeks to change the sexual orientation.

The law, even with parental permission, that bans this reparative therapy is not favored by everyone. New Jersey Family Council says “it will infringe on parents’ rights, on their ability to do what they think is best for their children.

The lead sponsor of the bill which bans licensed practitioners from performing conversion therapy on minors is openly gay Democrat from Bergen County, State Assemblyman Tim Eustace. Representing District 38, and endorsed by The Victory Fund that “elects LGBT leaders to change American politics,” Eustace spent ten years as a councilman in Maywood, New Jersey. He was Chamber of Commerce for twenty years.

New Jersey would become the nation’s second state to ban “gay-to-straight” conversion therapy.  California passed a similar bill signed into law last September by Governor Jerry Brown.  The law was set to take effect on January 1, 2013, but the United States Circuit Court of Appeals last month issued an emergency order putting the California law on hold until it can hear full arguments on the issue.


Can You ever Switch your Gay Identity To Straight?

Governor Jerry Brown’s Decision to Ban Conversion Therapy in Ca. Upsets Critics

Starting January 1, 2013, sexual conversion therapies, also called reparative therapies, will be outlawed in California for minors.  Governor Brown calls this therapy unscientific with no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

The law states that licensed mental health providers ”shall not provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation including efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions of to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

Often run by religious groups with names like Journey Into Manhood or People Can Change, these pray-away camps appeal to Christian thought that homosexuality is sinful. Conservatives, opposed to gay marriage and the “gay lifestyle” defend these organizations that believe that homosexuality is a “choice” and can be overcome. Is the theory political or scientifically based?

Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group, believes that reparative therapy is junk science being used to justify religious beliefs that homosexual urges can be banished.

Jerry Brown

Nature vs. Nurture

Although the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations disapprove of reparative therapy, it is still practiced by a handful of therapists who believe that homosexual desires result  from early childhood wounds.

The director of the largest reparative therapy clinic in the world, Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinical in Encino, California , Joseph Nicolosi, argues that “all  people are heterosexual but some have a homosexual problem, and some of these people attempt to resolve their conflict by adopting a sociopolitical label called ‘gay.’” If you unearth family trauma such as a distant father and an overbearing mother or child abuse, you can bring change not only in sexual desire, but maybe even a permanent cure.(see http://”Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t be Changed.” New York Times, 11/1/12.

Last April, conversion therapy was dealt a blow by Robert L. Spitzer, author of a study eleven years-old that purported that gays could change their sexual orientation.  He said his study was invalid.  In June 2012, the president of Exodus International, the largest Christian ministry for homosexuals, Alan Chambers, said that it was futile to try to change same-sex attraction and it seldom works.anyway: “99.9 percent of people Chambers has encountered in twenty years with Exodus were not able to completely rid themselves of same-sex attraction.

Permanent Cure or Temporary Healing?

Some men who attend these retreats, and partake of reparative therapy, claim the switch works. Says “Jeremy S., 34, a corporate contract officer in Dallas, “ that from his teens until three years ago he lived as a gay man.  It wasn’t working for me.”  After two years of therapy with Dr. Nicolosi, Jeremy claims his attraction to men was” practically diminishing.”  He has not had sex with a man for more than two years and does not think about it more than once a month, adding that his Catholic faith has also deepened.

However, gay rights groups say the therapies cause emotional harm which in some cases has led to depression, even suicide.and certainly anger, hopelessness, and guilt among its patients.

Lawsuits Already Filed: Violation of Free Choice

The lawsuits are being filed on behalf of therapists whose practices include reducing same-sex attraction and changing their sexual orientation, parents who have enrolled their children in reparative therapy as well as the teenagers who are undergoing it.

Does the law infringe on The First Amendment and equal protection rights of individuals to give and receive information that matches their personal and professional beliefs? Will it cause harm to those who claim they need and want the therapy?

What are the long-term effects of subjugating same-sex desires?