Right-wing media erupted in outrage over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision on August 19 to "reluctantly" sign into law a bill banning "conversion therapy" for gay, lesbian, and bisexual minors, attacking Christie's decision as an affront to religious freedom, the epitome of government overreach, and a boon to child molesters.
As Christie noted in signing the law, the American Psychological Association (APA) opposes "ex-gay" therapy as harmful and scientifically unsound. Reports have exposed the cruel, degrading, and disturbing tactics employed by "ex-gay" therapy organizations, and a staggering 92 percent of former "ex-gay" patients report that they experienced harm as a result of the treatment.
On his radio program, Sean Hannity ignored the fraudulent quackery of "ex-gay" therapy to frame the debate as a matter of religious freedom. "Is there freedom of religion anymore, or is that banned in New Jersey?" Hannity asked, before concluding that it "sounds like" the answer is the latter:
In fact, the law does not prohibit religious institutions from preaching against homosexuality. It simply ensures that psychologists adhere to the standards of their profession by not providing discredited and demeaning treatments.
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer - displaying a newfound concern for the welfare of gay adolescents - tweeted on August 19 that Christie's decision "condemns gay teens to [a] lifetime of depression and disease":
Liberty Counsel Action Vice President Matt Barber also came unhinged, calling the law "NJ's Jerry Sandusky bill":
In a story posted on August 19, the right-wing Washington Times quoted Liberty Counsel's founder and chairman Matt Staver, who also used the bill's signing to invoke a Sandusky comparison:
"The bill is so broad that parents would be prohibited from seeking help for their son who developed unwanted same-sex attractions after being molested by the likes of Jerry Sandusky," Mr. Staver said, referring to the former Penn State football coach convicted of child molestation. Mr. Staver added that the bill provides a "slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs."
The Times also quoted Arthur Goldberg, co-founder of the "ex-gay" organization Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), without noting the demeaning "therapy" tactics JONAH uses. Goldberg asserted that banning "ex-gay" therapy deprived gay adolescents of "help."
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner reported that National Organization for Marriage (NOM) co-founder and National Review Online contributor Maggie Gallagher - who has repeatedly lied about her support for "ex-gay" therapy - lambasted Christie for "shut[ting] down" gay adolescents' "right of self-determination."
RedState.com's Dan Spencer denounced the new law as "abhorrent," all but accusing Christie of being a bad Catholic by signing it:
According to CNN, Christie, a Catholic, Christie has stated his opposition to gay conversion therapy and in an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" said he did not think homosexuality is a sin:
Well, my religion says it's a sin. But for me, I don't. I've always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so, I think if someone is born that way, it's very difficult to say then that that's a sin. But I understand that my church says that.
Christie is as wrong about the teachings of his own religion as he is about signing the abhorrent legislation. Catholicism teaches that homosexual acts are a sin, not homosexuality.
The Blaze's Meredith Jessup professed little interest in whether "ex-gay" therapy "may or may not have merit," but defended the right of "ex-gay" organizations to peddle damaging treatments, wondering if the government "should be allowed to ban therapists from using "conversion therapy" in their practices." She concluded by asking who Chris Christie is "to tell them they can't."
Even pioneers of "ex-gay" therapy like psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer and the recently shuttered evangelical group Exodus International have recanted their past support for the practice, stating that it's ineffective and exacerbates social stigma toward the LGBT community.
UPDATE: In an August 20 post for National Review Online, Maggie Gallagher stated that the press release attributed to her in response to Gov. Christie's decision to sign the bill into law had been released without her "knowledge or approval," writing:
A press release attributed to Maggie Gallagher was released by staff error yesterday without my knowledge or approval. These are not my words nor my sentiments. I will read the bill Chris Christie signed carefully before I issue any statement, if I do.