New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill outlawing treatment designed to change the sexual orientation of gay minors. According to the Wall Street Journal, Christie does not support the government telling parents how to raise their children, but is wary of the health risks associated with forcing youths to alter their sexual orientation.

Specifically, Christie referenced an American Psychological Association study which found that conversion therapy can lead to substance abuse, depression and thoughts of suicide. “I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate,” the governor wrote. “Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law.”

The bill prevents counselors from giving the counseling, known as "sexual orientation change efforts,” to anyone under the age of 18. Today was the deadline for Christie to sign the bill. This will make New Jersey the first state with this type of ban in place; similar legislation was passed in California, but it's been contested by the law. 

Supporters of the bill were surprised that Christie signed it. “It’s always amazing to have something to protect this many young people," said Garden State Equality executive director Troy Stevenson. While Christie doesn't support gay marriage, he is in favor of legislation providing same sex couples with the state benefits of marriage, minus the actual title.

[via Wall Street Journal]