NJ Teen Celebrates Anti-Conversion Therapy Law [AUDIO]
Governor Christie signed a bill into law outlawing the practice of licensed therapists from trying to make homosexual children straight, also known as "conversion therapy."
The bill passed both houses of New Jersey Legislature with bi-partisan support in June. Governor Christie, who was vocally opposed to same sex marriage, said he believes being gay is not a choice and homosexuality is not a sin.
The passage of the bill is due in no small part to 18-year-old Jacob Rudolph of Parsippany, who launched a petition on Change.org for Governor Christie to sign the bill - gathering nearly 150,000 signatures. Rudolph also testified before both chambers of New Jersey Legislature on the matter.
Rudolph, who is an incoming freshman at Miami University, said the things done at conversion therapy sessions are "abominable." He told CBS AM 880 about instances of people being hurt and then forced to watch homosexual encounters in order to associate the two.
Christie cited a report from the American Psychological Association, which identified numerous health risks, including depression and suicide, related with trying to change a child's sexuality.
"Government should tread carefully into this area," he said in the signing note, which was obtained by The Associated Press, "and I do so here reluctantly."
"However, I also believe that on the issues of medical treatment for children, we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards," Christie said, citing a litany of potential ill-effects of trying to change sexual orientation, including depression and suicide. "I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate."
Rudolph noted that while the issue affects the LGBT community, the bill fundamentally protects children.
"I think Governor Christie realized has nothing to do with the institution of marriage, which he likes to point out frequently has been around for 2,000 years."
"This is really about making sure kids are safe and parents aren't being myopic in their decision of how to 'fix' their kids."
Rudolph says he will continue his activism in Florida and try to expand the law along the East Coast. So far, only New Jersey and California have legislation preventing conversion therapy for minors. Adults are allowed to participate in the therapy is they choose.