The Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear Challenge of California’s Statute Banning Gay Conversion Therapy May Affect Challenges Currently Pending to New Jersey’s Almost Identical Statute

In addition to states examining issues of gay marriage, many jurisdictions are also grappling with the notion of “gay conversion therapy” aimed at therapeutically “fixing” gays.

The Supreme Court’s Refusal to entertain the challenge of California’s statute banning gay conversion therapy for minors may indicate that New Jersey’s statute banning gay conversion therapy will be upheld. New Jersey’s statute banning gay conversion therapy, N.J. Stat. § 45:1-55 provides that practitioners licensed to provide professional counseling “shall not engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.” The statute also defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as “the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic feelings toward a person of the same gender…” N.J. Stat. § 45:1-55(b).

New Jersey is only one of two states in the country to impose a ban on gay conversion therapy. The Supreme Court’s decision not to entertain the challenge to California’s statute may indicate that the two pending challenges to the New Jersey statute will ultimately be unsuccessful. The first challenge to New Jersey’s statute, King v. Christie, 981 F. Supp. 2d (D.N.J. 2013), is pending appeal before the Third Circuit after the District Court rendered a decision denying the challenge to the statute. The second challenge was stayed by the District Court of New Jersey pending the Supreme Court’s decision to deny the California challenge. The Supreme Court’s decision may mean that, effectively, it will be left to each state to decide whether to impose a ban on gay conversion therapy.

For family law practitioners in New Jersey, this may have an impact as well. If N.J. Stat. § 45:1-55 is upheld and practitioners are prohibited from practicing gay conversion therapy in this State, a divorced parent will effectively be unable to have his or her child undergo gay conversion therapy even if he or she wanted a child to undergo this “treatment.” For family law practitioners in New Jersey this can mean only one thing, there will be no post-judgment motions filed by either party regarding this issue unless one parent has the means and time to have a child undergo this “therapy” in another state. This issue however would not likely arise on a very frequent basis.

Contact the New Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates

If you or someone you know wants your child to undergo gay conversion therapy, do not call us. If you want to get divorced however, please contact one of the skilled attorneys at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777 for a consultation today. You can also fill out our online intake form.

Written By:  Mark T. Gabriel