I'm a bit surprised to have not seen a diary on this yet but there is some great news coming out of my home state of New Jersey on the front LGBT rights. The state legislature passed and Governor Chris Christie signed a bill outlawing licensed therapists from trying to abuse gay minors into being heterosexuals. New Jersey is the second such state to pass such legislation after California but will likely be the first one put into force because the California law is currently being fought over in court. This is an excellent piece of legislation that does right by gay teens who are going through what is usually the most difficult and vulnerable part of their lives. More below the fold:
What we're witnessing here is the slow death of one of the most pernicious tools of the religious right. Just about every mental health organization in America has come out and condemned use of reparative therapy which Christie cited in his decision to sign the bill. The passage of this bill also follows in the wake of the recent death of Exodus International, one of the largest gay-to-straight abuse non-profits in the country. The ministry's president Alan Chambers even publicly repudiated their own ideology, and issued this apology:
"I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents."So make no mistake, this is a clear victory not just in the fight for an equal society for LGBT Americans but in the fight against child abuse. Lawmakers are finally starting to see this for what it is, child abuse, and treating it as such while the homophobes in the religious right are losing public credibility by the day. Now other states and the federal government need to step up to the plate and follow the lead of New Jersey and California on this issue.
The other interesting dimension of this story is the political one. This bill was signed into law by 2016 hopeful Chris Christie which surprises me a bit. This is the sort of issue I can see costing Christie votes among the many far-right evangelicals that make up the Republican primary electorate in early states like Iowa and South Carolina. While this decision is far more in line with how America at large feels, this gives a candidate like Rick Santorum good ammunition in those crucial early states.
It is also worth noting how Christie came to sign that bill in the first place. The bill was passed with huge majorities in both houses that would have likely survived a veto override. Christie also sat on the bill for a long time and finally decided to sign it hours before the bill would have become law without his signature anyway. So this bill was going to become law whether he liked it or not and he decided at the last minute that he would like to be on the right side of history.
I think that it's important to remember that while Chris Christie is made the right decision here, he's no friend of the LGBT movement on one of their other big issues, marriage equality. Chris Christie has vetoed bills that would have made marriage equality the law of the land in New Jersey which is one of many reasons why no self-respecting New Jersey progressive should even think of voting for him this November. But a broken clock is correct twice per day and I am more than willing to give credit where credit is due whenever good bills become law.