The issue of gay conversion therapy for children has been injected into New Jersey's nascent gubernatorial race as Gov. Chris Christie's apparent indecision on the matter has sparked outrage from state Democrats, who called his response "disgusting."
The controversy began Wednesday afternoon when during a news conference Christie would not commit to signing legislation that would forbid licensed counselors from trying to change the sexual orientation of minors, reported Philly.com
Within 24 hours of Christie's unwillingness to get behind the measure, the Democratic Governors Association launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to raise capital and dissuade voters in the Garden State from supporting the popular governor, calling Christie a "right-wing reactionary."
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CNN along with other news outlets subsequently pressed the governor about his stance on gay conversion therapy, prompting a response Thursday afternoon from a Christie spokesperson telling reporters that the governor opposed gay conversion therapy.
Despite this apparent reversal, Christie has yet to definitely say whether he would support the proposed measure.
The legislation was proposed by New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono, considered to be a likely opponent to Christie in next year's governor's race.
"Gay children don't need to be cured, they need to be loved like all of our children," Buono said Thursday reacting to the controversy. "It's an outrageous practice that has no place in New Jersey."
In Wednesday's initial news conference, Christie told reporters that he had yet to read the bill in question and that he had only recently heard about gay conversion reports Philly.com.
"You know, I'm of two minds on this stuff in general," Christie said Wednesday. "One, I think there should be lots of deference given to parents on raising their children . . . I'm generally a skeptic on those things. Now there can always be exceptions to those rules, and this bill may be one of them."
Reacting to Christie's press conference remarks, Buono said: "I was shocked at the stunning level of ignorance that statement showed."
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which has condemned the treatment, gay conversion therapy is a "psychiatric treatment . . . based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation."
Gay conversion therapy is often associated with Christian fundamentalist groups.
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In a 2011 interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Christie said that he did not view homosexuality as a sin adding that he did not believe people are born gay.
A similar gay-conversion ban was passed in California in 2012; however court challenges have prevented it from being enacted.
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