Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

State Legislation & Policy

Case: King v. Christie

STATUS: Victory, New Jersey

On August 19, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the nation’s second law prohibiting state-licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient under 18 years old. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

An anti-LGBT legal group immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new law on behalf of two New Jersey therapists and two organizations that support conversion therapy. In September 2013, NCLR filed a successful motion to intervene in the case on behalf of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest civil rights organization and a primary supporter of the law during the legislative process. Garden State Equality intervened in the case in order to defend the law alongside the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, which represents the State of New Jersey defendants.

On September 13, 2013, NCLR filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to uphold the law and reject each of the plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges, citing the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding a similar law in California.

On November 8, 2013, Judge Freda Wolfson of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey upheld the law and rejected the therapists’ legal challenge. Judge Wolfson concluded that the New Jersey law “restricts neither speech nor religious expression.” She noted that the therapists’ challenge to the law “runs counter to the longstanding principle that a state generally may enact laws rationally regulating professionals, including those providing medicine and mental health services.”  The plaintiffs in the case have filed an appeal.

Garden State Equality is represented in the case by NCLR and the law firms of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and GluckWalrath LLP.

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