Christie's Gay Bill Irks Christian Right

Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013 07:14 AM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's signing of legislation last week banning the practice of gay conversion therapy on minors has opened a wound with Christian conservatives and will likely prove another stumbling block in any 2016 presidential bid.

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said the law "tramples on the rights of minors, parents, and therapists alike" and shows that Christie "has accepted a distorted view of what the research shows."

Connie Mackey, president of FRC Action PAC, predicted that Christie's "poorly informed decision" will "undermine any of his national political ambitions. Values voters are looking for candidates who will lead the way to preserve the right to live out one's faith."

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In a video posted on the website of Citizenlink -- a Focus on the Family affiliate -- the group's Executive Director Tom Minnery said the ban was the "politically correct thing to do" and Christie was "bowing in the face of huge social pressure."

And Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit organization that advocates for religious freedom, announced its plans to file suit to overturn the law.

The legislation -- Assembly Bill 3371 -- prohibits "counseling to change the sexual orientation of a minor" and passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature with bipartisan majorities.

Christian groups and other family advocates argue that the state should not be interfering in parental rights, and the types of counseling, especially religious-based, they may seek for their children.

Larry Tomczak, writing in CharismaNews, took issue with Christie for saying that people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin during the signing of the therapy ban bill.

"With all due respect, for Christian parents, counselors and parents to remain silent when you make these kinds of statements would be inexcusable," Tomczak wrote. "Millions of decent, concerned citizens view this as a further erosion of parental rights."

Even with criticism coming from the Christian right, Dan Judy, a Republican operative with North Star Opinion Research, said signing the gay conversion therapy ban shouldn't hurt Christie's chances if he decides to seek Republican presidential nomination.

"It is a very specific issue. In terms of gay rights, gay marriage is the issue that matters and on that [Christie] is on the side of conservatives in opposing it," Judy said in an interview with Newsmax.

Christie has been walking a fine line on social issues and his stand on gay rights is no different.

Responding to a question following the signing ceremony about whether his position on gay conversion therapy was in conflict with his stance on gay marriage -- which he opposes -- Christie countered that "both the veto message on the same-sex marriage bill and the signing statement on the gay conversion therapy bill -- anybody who reads those won't have any problem reconciling the two."

Judy notes that for all of the talk that Christie is too moderate, the governor actually holds conservative positions on right-to-life issues and gay marriage.

The Christie administration recently filed a legal brief defending the state's 2006 Civil Union Act, which grants gay couples all the benefits of marriage yet bars them from actually getting married.

On Second Amendment issues, Christie recently vetoed three gun-control measures, including a ban on .50 caliber long-range rifles that he actually proposed in 2012.

Christie has harshly criticized the NRA and has called for stronger gun control in cracking down on crime. Earlier this year Christie slammed the NRA for a running a TV ad noting President Barack Obama's daughters attended a private school that utilized armed guards.

On other key issues, Christie has embraced global warming as a real threat and said that illegal aliens committed no crime by entering the U.S.

Christie appears to be a collision course with key constituencies of the Republican Party, including Christian evangelicals, gun rights supporters and libertarians. Christie recently got into a public spat with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, characterizing his libertarian views as "dangerous."

Polls suggest Christie’s moderate image makes him popular among swing voters. But GOP strategists say winning Republican presidential candidates -- such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush -- took the White House by having a highly motivated base turn out on Election Day, including religious voters and NRA supporters.

Conservative talk show host Mark Levin told Fox News last week, "As for Chris Christie, I will do everything I can in my little way to make sure he is not the nominee."

Urgent: Supreme Court Right on Gay Marriage? Vote Here Now

Levin said "if we keep nominating Republicans, moderates from the Northeast, we're going to keep getting our lunch handed to us."

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