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Federal judge upholds N.J. ban on gay conversion therapy

Friday, November 8, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. — A federal judge on Friday upheld a New Jersey law barring therapists from trying to turn gay youth straight.

Judge Freda L. Wolfson said in the ruling that the law does not violate free speech or religious protection.

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The law “on its face does not target speech, and “counseling” is not entitled to special constitutional protection merely because it is primarily carried out through talk therapy,” Wolfson wrote.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a ban on the controversial practice, known as gay conversion therapy, in August.

Christie, a Republican, said health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation, identified by the American Psychological Association, usurped concerns about parental choice.

Christie, however, said it is an area where the government should “tread carefully.”

California was the first, and the only other, state to ban the practice. In August, a federal appeals court upheld the state’s statute.

The New Jersey lawsuit, filed by two therapists, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association of Christian Counselors, argued the law violates the right to free speech because counselors are barred from talking about conversion therapy.

Plaintiffs also argued that it infringed upon the right to exercise religion and parents to “direct the upbringing and education of their children according to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Demetrios K. Stratis, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Wolfson ruled the plaintiffs’ argument could be stretched to mean that regulation of any professional counseling could violate First Amendment rights, a result that “runs counter to the longstanding principle that a state generally may enact laws rationally regulating professionals, including those providing medicine and mental health services,” she wrote.

Wolfson granted a motion to allow Garden State Equality to intervene in the lawsuit. Its president, Troy Stevenson, said in a statement the ruling is a “huge victory for New Jersey youth.”

A New Jersey couple filed a separate lawsuit Monday claiming their constitutional rights are being violated because they cannot seek gay conversion therapy for their 15-year-old son.

The couple said their right to equal protection is being violated because the law is “denying minors the opportunity to pursue a particular course of action that can help them address the conflicts between their religious and moral values and same-sex attractions, behaviors or identity.”

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56 more reader comments:

  1. Amen!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:32am
  2. Self-loathing would be a more fitting way to express the same idea. The other word is used too often.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:33am
  3. exactly. Amen to that

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:34am
  4. Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:35am
  5. Good. I hope that poor boy will be able to get away from those monsters he has for parents soon!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:35am
  6. Thank god. People finally understand that shit was damaging, not at all helpful.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:35am
  7. Thank God.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:38am
  8. It is about time a judge got a pair of BALLS and told these fanatics NO.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:41am
  9. AMEN !!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:45am
  10. Yes!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:45am
  11. Now if only we could extend this protection to the rest of the LGBTQA demographic, and not exclude trans* people as “medical anomalies”. No one should be forced to be counseled on their gender or sexuality because it’s unjust, in the most simplistic terms.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:46am
  12. This isn't necessarily forced. Many hopeful ex-gays genuinely want to go, though for many it's so that they will be more tolerated.

    Replied on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:18am
  13. They cave in to the pressure exerted by unfeeling family and peers who no more understand these people than they understand quantum mechanics.

    Replied on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 7:29am
  14. Yes, I'm sure many people who are taught to hate themselves genuinely want to be tortured into a state of sanitized reactiveness -- otherwise known as brainwashing.

    Replied on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 8:12am
  15. John Kleptocratic Klepáč ,, if thats what those gays want they can find that at most any church. but it shouldnt be allowed to be touted as a science or a service.

    Replied on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 8:43am
  16. Its religion.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 3:15am
  17. GOOD

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 3:17am
  18. Finally a judge using science and reason instead of ignorance and irrationality:)

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 4:17am
  19. thanks

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 4:27am
  20. It’s NOT THERAPY.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 4:34am
  21. Ah. It makes me feel good inside that this is being upheld. Crazy people seem to have their way so often in America…..

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 4:45am
  22. Agreed.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 4:46am
  23. This should NOT even be up for discussion!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 5:39am
  24. I suppose I agree for youth, because it’s so difficult to determine consent with parents involved. But I wouldn’t support banning gay conversion therapy for people who genuinely want it, although it seems to almost never work.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:19am
  25. The only reason they want to go is because they’re terrified of the lack of acceptance and love they will get from their families and friends. Being an lgbtqa individual does not make one unhappy, being mistreated because you’re lgbtqa does. In this case, the consenting individual is being pressured to be “fixed” by conversion therapy, most often endorsed by religious officials and practices, by her (this is a transgender person) parents. You can’t fix something that isn’t broken. No lgbtqa individual wants to be converted; the ideology and taboo connotation associated with being an “anomaly” or “abnormal outlier” is not inherently born into the lgbtqa person, moreover it is beat into them by society, family, religion, etc, etc.

    Playing devils advocate with people’s basic human rights is disturbing. Please don’t do it; unless you’re on a site that isn’t aimed towards lgbtqa equality.

    Like I said, transgender people, like myself, have to go through months of “counseling” before an actual transition can take place. And even before you start hormone eplacement therapy, your counselor is going to question “what made you like this”. The “counselor” sees you and your “decision” as a problem that can be talked about and fixed with words. The only real purpose that counseling serves within the lgbtqa community is to hold off on the necessary treatments (like hormones) and consider that it’s “all just mental”. /Some/ counselors do talk about things realistically, like the depression that comes along with the dysphoria, but most of the reason behind having them there is to question the credibility of the lgbtqa person and ultimately, question the credibility of their problems and waving them off as just mental issues or issues not heeding transformation or hormones. Lgbtqa issues are human issues, not mental issues, and no matter how much you think conversion therapy “saved you”, deep down inside you’re still going to be lgbtqa at the end of the day because you cannot change who you are. You are you and there’s no amount of miracle pills or prayers that will change that.

    Allowing this kind of mistreatment to go on in this demographic of people basically insinuates that being lgbtqa is a choice, which it isn’t. You can’t wake up one day and decide to be straight anymore than you can wake up and decide to be gay or trans.

    It just doesn’t work that way. I hate to be the one to break it to you.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:53am
  26. Perhaps these judges need 2 grow a virgina, they take more of a pounding

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:57am
  27. Equality is best for American.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 10:29am
  28. Thank you!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 12:45pm
  29. Come on people we are people to

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:05pm
  30. Chapter 8 of “Jango’s Anthem”- Zombie Fighter Jango #2, read by the author! This chapter introduces Vanessa, a transgendered woman. Her story is one of sadness and pain, and.. Well, maybe you should watch the video and find out!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZCsLJRmg4s

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:09pm
  31. Sorry I deleted my post because my tiredness made me write a mistake. I mean YAYYYYYY

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 3:16pm
  32. If sraight people wana be gay we should help them its n ot their fault they were born that way.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 3:51pm
  33. Yay!

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:34pm
  34. Watch “ClockWork Orange” if you want to know what “Gay conversion therapy” is all about.

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 9:11pm
  35. in fact, it is “Un-Therapeutic” and “dehumanizing” …

    Posted on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 11:55pm
  36. yes

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 12:25am
  37. GREAT idea, did they really think they could change gay to straight? idiots!

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 1:00am
  38. Would they pass a law allowing therapists to turn politicians honest???? I doubt it.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 1:46am
  39. But the the therapy “they” want for us is not therapy either. Remember, “WE” don’t need the therapy, “they” do.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 2:24am
  40. Many people in my graduate counseling program say they are biased against gays. This law is needed to protect the innocent from “helpers”.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:12am
  41. If I ever hear of this happening to a child I am filing child abuse charges.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:08pm
  42. Conversion therapy has caused the suicide rates to increase in teens! It is not therapy!

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:09pm
  43. This is old news.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:10pm
  44. LET’S GIVE THERAPY TO APPLES AND TURN THEM INTO GRAPEFRUITS….ANYONE????

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:19pm
  45. <3

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:26pm
  46. yes, stop the ignorance….it kills….”love one another, as I have loved you”…..

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:27pm
  47. Yes...love and acceptance are the true ways to happiness for all of us. People MUST stop the hate..and we can fight against the darkness with the light of education and love.

    Replied on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 10:33pm
  48. we are not broken

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:33pm
  49. Beautiful sign!

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:39pm
  50. Conversion therapy…the most sickest thing I ever heard!

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:43pm
  51. Jail the people who teach this.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:54pm
  52. Conversion to to what a cat you got that right they need to go to jail

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:59pm
  53. Awesome!!

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 7:07pm
  54. Don’t be a fool.

    Posted on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 7:29pm
  55. Ac 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

    Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 12:59am
  56. I can’t believe its not banned everywhere. Fuckin sickos trying to screw up the minds of the lgbt youth, makes me want to vomit

    Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 5:50am