Although I am not a parent, I am told by many who are moms and dads that being a parent is by far the most difficult job you will ever love. It's not uncommon for parents to convey their concerns (or in some cases, downright fear) about imparting enough in their children to ensure the kids are functional members of society.
Unfortunately, there are also those who weren't cut out to be parents. Rarely does a day go by where we don't hear of a horror story of how certain parents abuse and/or neglect their children. When that happens, I'm all for some sort of social intervention to ensure that the kids are able to be protected from an untenable situation into which they were born.
While there are certainly situations where parents' treatment of children can unequivocally be characterized as abuse, there are some methods which aren't so black and white. For example, if parents of the Christian faith learn their child is a homosexual (a sin, according to the parents' faith), they may opt for their son/daughter to undergo therapy to overcome that condition. In their mind, it would be no different than helping a child be cured of other ailments, whether it's anger issues or kleptomania. It would be these situations where I would be loathe to accept any kind of government intervention hindering these treatments. Nevertheless, the state government in New Jersey saw fit in having a say in a child's "gay conversion therapy." (emphasis mine)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday (signed) a bill that will ban the practice of trying to convert gay children to become heterosexual, according to an aide.
Christie’s office had previously made clear that the governor doesn’t believe in gay conversion therapy, but it had not said whether he would sign the bill passed by the legislature.
“I still have those concerns,” he plans to say Monday. “Government should tread carefully into this area, and I do so here reluctantly. I have scrutinized this piece of legislation with that concern in mind.”
But, Christie will note, the American Psychological Association has said that gay conversion therapy — also known as reparative therapy — can lead to mental health issues and substance abuse.
Sure, it can. With any kind of therapy that attempts to change and/or correct behavior, there are no guarantees of an ultimate cure. But what percentage chance is there that such therapy will lead to drug abuse or mental illness? If broached with a number, parents would then determine if it's worth pressing forward with such treatment. It would seem quite obvious that any parent wouldn't be all that interested in swapping their kid's one issue for an entirely different ailment.
“I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate,” Christie will say. “Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law.”I could almost stomach some sort of legislation like this if indeed there was ample evidence of "serious risks." Again, with children being so vulnerable in our society, we are obligated to ensure their well-being. But given what Gov. Christie is saying here, it seems as though he's speaking in generalities (again, no specific percentages of failure, cited studies, etc.). It may also be due to the fact that Christie believes homosexuality is not a "choice." Therefore he's of the mindset that one should not be subject to therapy which attempts to alleviate something which is innate.
Last year, California attempted a similar ban on gay conversion therapy but it was blocked by a U.S. appeals court. No indication as to whether the New Jersey law could be subject to similar litigation.