A couple who wants to send their 15-year-old son to counseling to curb his attraction to other males is suing New Jersey over the state’s ban on so-called “gay conversion” therapies for minors.
In August, Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that outlaws the therapies, making New Jersey the second state to do so, after California.
The new law was upheld in court Nov. 8 by U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson after two therapists who wanted to provide the treatments sued.
Now, the same judge and the same attorneys on each side are headed to court again.
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In this case, which also names Christie, a 15-year-old — referred to in court documents as John Doe for privacy reasons — and his parents want the teenager to undergo the therapies. They say the law is unfairly preventing him from getting the treatment he wants, according to court documents.
In the court complaint, the family alleges the law violates freedom of speech and free exercise of religion, as well as the parents’ fundamental rights.
The court complaint details the teenager’s history of expressing stereotypically feminine and homosexual behavior, which the family says led him to have suicidal thoughts starting around age 10.
His “unwanted same-sex attraction” was confusing and conflicted with his Roman Catholic religious beliefs, the complaint said.
He tried to kill himself multiple times, court documents say, and eventually asked to go to counseling.
After he began therapy to change his sexual orientation in 2011 in New York, the strength of his same-sex attractions dropped, according to court documents. On a scale of 1 to 10, the level of attraction dropped from an 8 to 3 and “every day would get a little better.”
Now, the 15-year-old wants to go to a licensed psychologist in New Jersey for further therapy — referred to in court documents as Sexual Orientation Change Efforts — but can’t because of the state’s ban.
“Because no licensed mental health professional in New Jersey can provide him with SOCE counseling, John Doe will substantially regress …,” the court complaint states.
In the earlier New Jersey case, Wolfson said the plaintiffs’ allegation that the ban infringes on First Amendment rights “runs counter to the long-standing principle that a state generally may enact laws rationally regulating professionals,” including those providing mental-health services.