A gay teenager from New Jersey gave an impassioned speech to a Senate committee considering a ban on gay conversion therapy in the state, after he started a petition with over 110,000 signatures against the therapy, and his recent coming out video went viral.
Jacob Rudolph, of Parsippany High School, New Jersey, spoke at the Senate committee, which passed the bill, S2278, banning the practice 7 votes to 1.
Back in January, Mr Rudolph took to the stage to accept a senior class award for being Class Actor, but went on to come out as an “LGBT teen” during his acceptance speech delivered to over three hundred classmates. The video of his coming out quickly went viral, and got over 2 million views.
In his testimony to the committee, he said: “It is beyond baffling to me that anyone might actually believe that sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice that can be altered if desired.
“Even more disturbing, however, is that there are organizations whose sole mission is to ‘cure’ LGBT individuals of their orientation to truculent practices that have been deemed harmful and ineffective by the American Psychological Association.”
Mr Rudolph had also created a change.org petition urging state Governor Chris Christie to support the legislation banning the practice, which received over 110,000 signatures.
The bill will now advance to the full Senate for approval, despite criticism from the conservative New Jersey Family Policy Council. If successful, New Jersey will join California in being the only states to have banned the reparative therapy.
Back in October 2012, the US state of California banned the practice of gay conversion therapy when used on minors – the first such legislation in the country.
In December a federal judge blocked the new law, which was set to go into effect in January, and then Governor Jerry Brown appealed to have the law come into effect.
Governor Brown said in a statement that gay “conversion therapy” had “no basis in science or medicine,” and that it would be “relegated to the dustbin of quackery”.
Last week, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notified the public that it had revoked the tax-exempt status for the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which aims to “cure” people of “unwanted homosexuality”.