WASHINGTON — A once high-profile opponent of same-sex couples’ marriage rights took aim Monday at Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to sign legislation into law that would ban therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors.
Maggie Gallagher, the former head of the National Organization for Marriage, who has kept a low profile over the past year, reappeared on the public scene Monday to attack the New Jersey governor for his bill signing.
“The new law communicates to gays and lesbians seeking to conform their lives to their values that they are second-glass [sic] citizens, without the same right to seek help that other people enjoy. It is a right of self-determination that Gov. Christie has shut down,” Gallagher said in a statement in her role as chairman of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund.
New Jersey’s LGBT group, Garden State Equality, defended Christie and the legislation — an unusual position for the group that has been fighting Christie on his opposition to marriage equality.
“It’s not about self-determination. What she’s advocating for is taking away self-determination from the youth of New Jersey,” Garden State Equality executive director Troy Stevenson said.
Notably, in February 2012, Gallagher denied in an appearance on Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC that she supported so-called conversion therapy efforts.
When The Nation’s Richard Kim questioned Gallagher about support for conversion or “reparative” therapy, Gallagher responded angrily, saying, “You’ve actually just made up a bunch of facts that aren’t true… I’ve never advocated for gay reparative therapy.”
In addition to calling such therapy for minors a matter of “self-determination” Monday, however, Gallagher also took aim at an impact that the law does not appear to have.
“Governor Christie’s decision today violates the individual drive of men and women who no longer want to be tormented by unwanted homosexual desires. They are adults and should be free to seek out help for themselves with government interference,” she said in her statement.
Stevenson, whose organization testified in support of the law and lobbied lawmakers for support, countered, “What adults want to do to themselves is their own prerogative. We are in the business of protecting youth.”
The terms of the legislation itself are limited to prohibiting those who are “licensed to provide professional counseling” from “engag[ing] in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under 18 years of age.”