A Florida-based conservative group sued New Jersey on Thursday, contending a new therapy law is an attempt to dictate to parents what form of mental-health treatment their children can get when struggling with sexuality issues.
On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill that bans therapists from trying to help teens get rid of unwanted homosexual attraction.
“This law is a tyrannical overreach of government authority,” Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said in a news release.
“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.”
When he signed the bill, Christie acknowledged he was on shaky ground, but said he was acting out of concern such therapy could be harmful for young people.
“Government should tread carefully into this area and I do so here reluctantly,” he wrote in a signing statement. “I have scrutinized this piece of legislation with that concern in mind. However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards.”
However, Liberty Counsel Action argues that Christie cited a task force report by the American Psychological Association that actually contains no documented evidence of harm caused by counseling children that unwanted homosexual impulses can be eliminated.
The task force’s resolution on what it calls sexual orientation change efforts states as much.
“Although sound data on the safety of SOCE are extremely limited, some individuals reported being harmed by SOCE,” the report states.
Liberty Counsel argues that anecdotal evidence like “some individuals reported being harmed” isn’t enough to trample the religious rights of parents, children and therapists.
“How can you ban counseling to minors where there is no evidence of harm to minors?” Stover asked in the release. “Indeed, there is no research on minors at all.
“It’s unconscionable that Governor Christie would sign this politically motivated legislation, putting himself in every counseling setting telling therapists what they can say and children and their parents what counseling they can hear, based on absolutely no evidence.”
Liberty Counsel is also suing California over a similar law. California and New Jersey are the only states that have laws against conversion therapy.