New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will sign a bill that forbids licensed therapists from trying to turn gay people straight, the Associated Press reports. The American Psychological Association raised serious ethical concerns about gay conversion therapy in 1997, and completely repudiated the practice in 2009. Exodus International, a major gay conversion ministry since the 1970s, closed down in June and apologized. But right now, California is the only state that bans it. In a note accompanying the signing on Monday, Christie, a Republican, will say he believes being gay is not a sin, and that people are born straight.
Though Christie's statement will indicate he's signing this ban into law because he thinks it's the right thing to do, it also is part of the governor's effort to look like a moderate Republican who can reach new voters in 2016. Christie is likely to be reelected governor this fall, and The New York Times's Jonathan Martin reported on Sunday that his strategy is to run up the score against his Democratic opponent to show he has the potential to win a broad coalition of voters in a presidential race. "Senior Republicans who are familiar with Mr. Christie’s strategy say it is most closely modeled after Mr. Bush's bid in 1998 for re-election as governor of Texas," Martin writes. "Mr. Bush was considered a shoo-in for re-election to the governor’s office, but he and [Karl] Rove became determined to win over Hispanic and black voters to demonstrate the governor’s broad appeal to a national audience."
After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee said Republicans must be more open minded about gay rights and support immigration reform in order to win the White House. At the RNC summer meeting in Boston last week, Christie defended being a moderate. "See I’m in this business to win," he said. "For our ideas to matter we have to win. Because if we don’t win, we don’t govern. And if we don’t govern all we do is shout to the wind." He took shots at Rand Paul as a "college professor," and Bobby Jindal for calling the GOP "the stupid party." Both of them are possible 2016 candidates. RNC members in Boston cheered Christie's speech. It will be a little less than three years before we see if Republican primary voters agree.