The topic of “Gay Conversion Therapy” (GCT) has made it way into the New Jersey Governor’s race between assumed Democratic Nominee Senator Barbara Buono and incumbent Governor Chris Christie. Buono spoke with reporters on a conference call about the issue on March 21, 2013, in response to comments made the prior day by Christie who stated that he had not made a decision on where he stands on the issue thus far.
GCT sounds like something out of a horror or science fiction movie until you realize that there are people who actually support such a thing. GCT has been called “praying the gay away” but is defined by Wikipedia as a range of pseudo-scientific treatments that aim to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Such therapies are associated with Christian fundamentalist groups. The “therapy” is highly condemned in the medical field.
The New Jersey legislature passed the bill banning the use of GCT on minors out of a legislative committee on Monday and it has yet to be approved by the full Democratic Legislature. The bill is co-sponsored by Buono.
Christie was asked about the issue at a town hall meeting on March 20, 2013 and was quoted by philly.com as saying “you know it was the first – not last week, but as there’s been discussion of this – it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it. I hadn’t heard of conversion therapy before the bill got into effect. So, I know basically what I’ve read in the papers, so I don’t want to give too much of a comment on it. We’ll take a look at the bill when it reaches my desk and it appears it’s going to. So, we’ll take a look at it then. You know, I’m of two minds on this stuff in general. One, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children and I don’t – and this is general philosophical now not to this bill, but generally philosophically on bills that restrict parents ability to make decisions on how to care for their children I’m generally a skeptic on those things.
"Now, there can always be exceptions to those rules and this bill maybe one of them, but and I haven’t looked at the bill yet in any detail and as you know I don’t usually look at this until they’re passed because right up to the last minute they’re often changed. And then something you said a week ago can be completely different a week later. So, when the bill gets to my desk I will certainly take a look at it. I don’t have any hardened fast position on this standing here today. I’m open to reading this bill and considering it and talking to both the proponents and opponents because I assume on almost every bill except for proclamation bills there are proponents and opponents. So, we’ll be happy to listen to folks in the normal course and then I’ll make a decision when I have to. But the first I’ve really heard about conversion therapy was when this debate started in the legislature with the introduction of the bill."
It’s a fair answer and a reasonable one, simply stating that he would listen to both sides of the argument before reaching a decision. I would expect the governor that represents me to be well informed and educated about an issue before rushing to a decision, even if such a disturbing “therapy” is a no brainer when it comes to deciding on it.
Buono wasted no time pouncing on Christie though, seeing a political opportunity to raise the rhetoric to her advantage which is perhaps a bit pre-mature. Buono stated "Gay children don't need to be 'cured,' they need to be loved and accepted for who they are, just like all of our children. Yet, Governor Christie says he's 'of two minds' on banning gay conversion therapy, a cruel and damaging process of trying to shame children into being someone they're not. It's an outrageous practice and it has no place in New Jersey. That Governor Christie would dignify this shameful practice is disgusting. I urge all New Jerseyans who value equality to speak out and make clear to Governor Christie that his intolerance has no place in our state."
Buono has managed her campaign in smart fashion thus far, she is obviously a seasoned politician and has the experience to be a governor, but she is over-reaching on this one. Buono is on target with her view of the issue, but in fairness to Christie, let’s give him a chance to decide before we throw any stones.