(619) 505-7777

New Jersey lawmaker plans to introduce bill to ban "ex-gay" therapy

TRENTON, N.J. -- An openly gay New Jersey lawmaker who is the father of two says he plans to introduce next week in the Assembly a bill to ban "ex-gay" therapy for minors.

This follows on the heels of California, which over the weekend became the first state to ban the controversial therapy that attempts to convert gay and lesbian children into heterosexuals. The vast majority of scientific and psychological evidence indicates that this form of therapy simply doesn't work and actually does more harm to the children. California Gov. Jerry Brown called the practice "quackery" when he signed the bill into law.

Assemblymember Timothy J. Eustace (D-Bergen) said the controversial practice needs to be outlawed.

"I see it as a form of child abuse," Eustace told Philly.com. Being gay "is not an illness, so what are they fixing?"

State Sens. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) plan to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.

Conversion therapy "exploits young boys and girls who happen to be gay," Lesniak told Philly.com.

"Parents don't have the right to endanger their children by participating in a practice that has no basis in science whatsoever," Sweeney said.

The chances for passage of the bill are good, since Democrats control the New Jersey Assembly and Senate. However, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican with presidential ambitions, could veto the bill just as he did when the legislature passed a marriage-equality bill.