New Jersey Couple Suing for the Right to Turn Their Gay Son Straight

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A New Jersey couple is suing Gov. Chris Christie over the ban on gay conversion therapy he signed into law in August. The law prevents licensed therapists from trying to turn gay teenagers straight. But the couple argues that their 15-year-old son doesn't want to be gay and needs this therapy. To them, the law infringes on their constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. 

The unnamed couple say their son suffers from "unwanted gender identity disorder and unwanted same-sex attractions" and has contemplated suicide. To be clear, the American Psychological Association has deemed gay conversion quackery. Beyond the fact that it doesn't succeed in turning anyone straight, it is affirmatively harmful.

Dr. Jack Drescher, MD, a distinguished fellow at the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, insists that the opinion that "being gay is a choice has no basis in current scientific thinking. Not only is homosexuality 'not a choice,' as most efforts to try and change a person's sexual orientation fail, but some attempts to change can cause harm and damage to an individual’s well-being."

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When Christie signed the ban, he cited the APA's findings, but conceded that he is worried about "government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children.'' The couple who filed the suit could conceivably seek out therapy in another state, or seek therapy from an unlicensed practitioner of gay conversion therapy (which would undoubtedly be a bad idea). 

Christie, who is expected to be re-elected as governor in tomorrow's election, has walked the line on gay rights issues. As a Catholic, he breaks with the church in asserting that homosexuality is not a sin, but he vetoed a same-sex marriage law last year. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.