Opponents of a bill to ban licensed therapists from counseling gay children to become straight are urging New Jersey lawmakers to reject the measure advanced by a state Senate committee in March.
At a news conference Monday, Gregory Quinlan with New Jersey Family First maintained that same-sex attraction can be the result of sexual molestation.
“We’d be denying that child the discovery of why they have those feelings, which is why we’re calling this the ‘Jerry Sandusky victimization act,'” Quinlan said.
That reference to the convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach got a quick response from T.J. Helmstetter with Garden State Equality.
“It takes a lot for me to be shocked in the state of New Jersey, especially when dealing with the people that you just heard from, and it is a new low,” he said.
Gay rights groups say there’s no proven link between child molestation and homosexuality.
Opponents of the conversion therapy ban say it limits parental rights and the help that counselors can provide.
Those who support the ban say the therapy is nothing more than abuse.
“The abuse we’re talking about is taking a child who has no consent over whatever therapy is happening to them, and they’re being told there is something fundamentally wrong with an immutable part of their character,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality.
Under the provisions of the bill, a person who is licensed to provide professional counseling would be prohibited from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with anyone under 18.
The bill defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as the practice of seeking to change an individual’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or toreduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same gender.