New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who many are saying is likely to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, is set to sign a bill on Monday banning gay therapy for teenagers, and has also said that he believes homosexuality is not a sin.
"Government should tread carefully into this area," Christie says in a signing note, reported by The Associated Press, "and I do so here reluctantly."
"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," Christie said, and pointed out that consequences of trying to change one's sexual orientation include increasing the risk of depression and suicide. "I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate."
The bill will make New Jersey the second state after California to ban conversion therapy. Critics of such therapy, such as Assemblyman Tim Eustace who sponsored the bill, said that it is "an insidious form of child abuse."
Social conservative groups have criticized such bills, however, and spoke out against California's gay therapy ban, which was passed in 2012.
"The California governor and legislature are putting their own preconceived notions and political ideology ahead of children and their rights to get access to counseling that meets their needs," Liberty Counsel said in a statement on behalf of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
"This law undermines parental rights. Mental health decisions should be left to the patient, the parents, and the counselors – not to the government to license one viewpoint."
Dr. David Pruden, vice president of Operations for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, previously told The Christian Post that there is a great deal of misinformation when it comes to gay therapy.
"This hate and misinformation campaign aimed at 'change' therapists is just political posturing and does not reflect the actual experience of individuals in therapy. All this fuss about change therapy is being used to promote a political agenda, not the well-being of clients," Dr. Pruden argued.
According to the AP report, Christie has also said that people are born gay and that he does not believe homosexuality to be a sin. As a Roman Catholic, the Republican governor's position stands against official church teachings.
Recently, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York clarified that the Roman Catholic Church seeks to accept homosexuals without accepting homosexual behavior, expanding on remarks Pope Francis had previously made where he said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"