Christie signs bill banning "conversion therapy" for gay kids in New Jersey

Last week he signed a bunch of minor gun-control bills, then vetoed one that would have banned .50-caliber rifles. He vetoed the Democratic bill easing access to medical marijuana for sick kids, but promised he’d sign a new one if they made a few tweaks. Today he’s signing a bill that’ll ban “gay conversion therapy” from being administered to people under 18, but he’s also committing to supporting NJ’s Republican candidate for Senate despite expectations that he’d stay out of the race. Expect three more months of this from Christie — a little for the left to protect his gubernatorial bid and a little for the right to protect his presidential ambitions — and then a tilt towards conservatism once he’s reelected.

As for this, look at it this way: He wasn’t going to win Iowa anyway.

At the outset of this debate, I expressed my concerns about government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children. I still have those concerns. 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.

However, I also believe that on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.

I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law.

His stance on medical marijuana for kids would give parents more control over their child’s treatment, which he probably assumes gives him a little extra leeway to take some control away on this. I’m looking forward to that reply at the debates when Santorum inevitably calls him out for signing this: “Of course I believe parents have a right to make medical decisions for their children. I greenlit weed for them, didn’t I?”

LGBT groups in the state are wondering if this is a sign that Christie will end up supporting gay marriage. Er, no, not for the next three years, at least. He’s already gone as far on this issue as he probably safely can to win a Republican primary: Watch him tell Piers Morgan below in 2011 that he doesn’t think homosexual behavior is sinful and that he thinks gays are born that way. That’s probably what forced his hand in signing today’s bill. He could have vetoed it, I guess, on grounds that his personal opinion is irrelevant and that parents should be free to choose conversion therapy if they wish, but then gay-rights activists would have hammered him with replays of this clip (as well as with what the APA said about health risks from the therapy). He’ll never be the social-con champion anyway, and there are worse fates for a centrist than being attacked on this subject by people to his right during a national primary campaign.

Exit question: Is this constitutional? Don’t be so sure.

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