An Assembly panel today passed a bill banning conversion therapy by licensed professionals. The controversial practice has been used by some group as an attempt to convert gay minors into heterosexuals.
NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider spoke with a supporter of the bill — Assemblyman Timothy Eustace (D-38), who said the most compelling testimony came from professionals.
“I wanted the Women and Children’s Committee to hear [from] psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists testify in favor of the bill,” said Eustace.
According to Eustace, the bill has not had a smooth pathway in the state legislature.
“The Senate heard it first, then we wanted to make the bills match. We had aligned our information with California’s information. So it seems to be streamlining now,” Eustace said.
He singled out Sen. Ray Lesniak for helping to move the bill forward, and is optimistic about its prospects.
“My colleagues in the Assembly, some are surprised that it still goes on and some are happy that this is moving forward,” Eustace said. “[Gov. Christie] said he doesn’t believe in comparative therapy, so that’s a good sign … There’s hope that this will pass both houses and then have the governor’s signature.”
The scope of the ban is limited to licensed professional, and would not apply to religious institutions.
“Religious institutions can do as they please. It’s probably their first amendment right.”
Eustace says that while the bill’s limited reach is frustrating, ending the practice within the professional industry will eventually have an impact how the practice is viewed in a religious setting.
“If we have the professionals saying this is not a sanctioned form of therapy, then actually the public knows better [that] this is a questionable practice,” he explained . “So that will make consumers in New Jersey more aware and more skeptical if they do end up in their religious environment doing this.”