(Photo: REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky)
A conservative legal group has stated its intentions to file a lawsuit against New Jersey over a recently signed law banning sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of The Liberty Counsel, confirmed to The Christian Post on Monday his organization's plan to file the suit. "We will be filing suit," said Staver, adding that the suit should be submitted "later this week."
On Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law A-3371, a bill that would ban the controversial practice of reparative therapy (also called conversion therapy) for minors. A-3371 enjoyed bipartisan support in the Garden State's Legislature, with both houses voting overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. A-3371 was sponsored by Assemblymen Timothy J. Eustace, Herb Conaway, Jr., John J. Burzichelli, Holly Schepisi, and Reed Gusciora. All the sponsors except Republican Schepisi were Democrats.
Weeks passed from when the Legislature sent A-3371 to his desk until Christie announced that he would sign it. In a statement, Christie said he believed government "should tread carefully into this area" and that he signed it with the belief that the well-being of children took precedence. "However, I also believe that on the issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards," said Christie.
"I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate."
In a statement provided to The Christian Post by the Liberty Counsel, Staver criticized the law for infringing on the rights of parents and counselors. "The New Jersey governor is putting himself in every counseling room, dictating what kind of counseling clients can receive," said Staver.
"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."
Staver also said in his statement released after the signing of the bill that A-3371 was also dangerous broad regarding its language. "This bill is so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested by the likes of Jerry Sandusky," said Staver.
"Counselors would only be allowed to affirm these unwanted feelings as good and normal. This is absurd and dangerous. This law would inflict serious damage to children, parents, and counselors."
This is not the first lawsuit the Liberty Counsel has filed against a state government over a ban on reparative therapy for minors. Last year, when California Governor Jerry Brown signed a similar bill into law, the legal group immediately filed suit on behalf of families and counselors.
Charla Bansley, communications director for the Liberty Counsel, told The Christian Post that the decision regarding the suit against the California law was still pending.
"It is pending. We got an injunction, and we are awaiting the decision from the court of appeals," said Bansley regarding the California suit filed last year.