Licensed therapists in New Jersey are banned from using conversion therapy to try to change a child's sexual orientation from gay to straight under a bill Gov. Chris Christie signed into law on August 19, the Charisma News website reports today (August 22, 2013).
But now a national Christian legal group -- which blocked an identical law from taking effect in California earlier this year -- has vowed to sue New Jersey, saying that the legislation violates the First Amendment rights of parents and therapists.
The new law prevents any licensed therapist, psychologist, social worker, or counselors related to these professions from using sexual orientation change efforts with a child under age 18. Offenders jeopardize their licensed status under the new law, which does not apply to clergy, or anyone who is not licensed by the state.
Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said his organization "will immediately file suit" at the request of New Jersey counselors and parents and national counseling organizations. "The New Jersey governor is putting himself in every counseling room, dictating what kind of counseling clients can receive," Staver said. He added, "This bill provides a slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs."