The New Jersey Senate Health Committee this morning is considering legislation that would ban so-called gay conversion therapy, the Star-Ledger reports:
State Assemblyman Tim Eustace, an openly gay Democrat from Bergen County, is the lead sponsor the bill (A3371) — which would ban licensed practitioners from performing the therapy on minors, even with parental permission. New Jersey would join California as the only states doing so.
Among those testifying before the committee will be Troy Stevenson (right), executive director of Garden State Equality. He offered PolitickerNJ a preview of what his testimony would be about, and why the issue is personal for him:
"When I was 15 years old, I met a young man from the rival high school in my home town in Oklahoma," Stevenson said. "He was the first person I felt I could truly connect with, the first person I came out to, and the first person I ever kissed.
"But that first kiss was interrupted. The football team caught us behind the school after practice. We ran for what we felt was our lives, and what may very well have been in Oklahoma in the early 1990s.
"We made it to our homes safely, and my first call was to my friend to make sure he was OK.
"But he wasn't OK," Stevenson said. "He described the 'conversion' camp his parents sent him to when he told them he was gay. He described things that I couldn't imagine, indignities that I won't repeat. He said, 'I will never go back.'
"That was the last time we spoke. The next day I found out that he took his life. There is no doubt in my mind that the thought of returning to that torment was more than he could take.