More than a decade ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that patients and their parents "avoid any treatments that claim to be able to change a person's sexual orientation, or treatment ideas that see homosexuality as a sickness." This week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie officially endorsed this point of view.
Christie signed a bill banning licensed therapists from trying to "convert" gay teens to heterosexuality. For that he received stinging criticism from conservative anti-gay groups. It's possible, however hard as it may be to imagine that Christie's supporters are exaggerating the political courage he showed by signing this legislation. It's also possible to overthink the more legitimate debate it raises.
Let's dispose of the politics first. Christie, whose presidential ambitions extend beyond New Jersey, may well make trouble for himself among some socially conservative Republicans with his support of this bill. Yet support for so-called conversion therapy much like opposition to same-sex marriage is dwindling, and will further by 2016. At any rate, truckling to fear and prejudice is no way to win a party nomination or, for that matter, to lead a state.