By Kathleen Gilbert
SAN DIEGO, California, May 3, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - California's pro-family therapists are striving to persuade the state's largest therapist association to stand firm against demands to suppress or kick out members who seek to help clients with unwanted same-sex attraction.
LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) reported in March that the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) has already submitted to demands from the gay-rights community to retract articles in the organization's magazine that supported traditional views on marriage and sexuality, apologize for and condemn them as "homophobic," and submit an amicus curiae brief opposing California's gay "marriage" ban.
Stating that it had been neutral on political issues since its inception, CAMFT had even expressed consternation at the lobby's "bullying tactics," before acquiescing to the lobbyists. So complete has that acquiescence been that CAMFT's latest annual conference in April was reportedly largely dominated by workshops celebrating homosexuality.
The organization is now under pressure to ban outright the practice of reparative therapy for clients with unwanted same-sex attraction, and expel any therapists who practice such therapy. East Bay CAMFT has already issued a statement broadly declaring that reparative therapy presents no "enduring benefit" and only causes "harm," and is pressuring the state-wide organization to adopt a similar stance.
In a letter submitted to CAMFT's executive director and Board of Trustees last month, 40 pro-family therapists with Therapists Embracing Religious Freedom (TERF) expressed concern that their religious freedom has been endangered by the organization's recent moves. By submitting to the gay lobby's demands, said the group, "the CAMFT leadership has come dangerously close to marginalizing those therapists and clients who come from traditional faith communities."
Furthermore, the group pointed out that East Bay CAMFT's blanket condemnation of anti-reparative therapy was "highly biased and incomplete." "While focusing attention on the APA’s finding that some clients find SOCE therapies to be harmful, no mention is made of the fact that the APA also reported that some clients found these therapies to be helpful," they noted. On their Facebook page, TERF pointed to www.mychoicemytherapy.com, a website recently published by clients of reparative therapy who testify to its effectiveness.
The therapists asked that CAMFT issue guidance to protect religious freedom when the values of clients and patients conflict, and to publish one article on the problem of religious discrimination and one on the benefit of reparative therapy, among other requests.
"If dialogue is no longer possible in The Therapist magazine, and dialogue is no longer possible on the CAMFT listserve," said the group, "we are frightened that honest and fair dialogue will be expunged from the organization as whole.
"If people of faith are being censored and/or unfairly attacked when they speak up in public about these issues, we cringe to think what might be happening behind closed doors throughout this state."
One CAMFT intern and co-founder of TERF, said that the group presented CAMFT leadership with professional testimony of the effectiveness of reparative therapy, as well as letters from clients who had benefitted from such therapy, at the same time as their letter. The intern told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that the Board is "being pretty mysterious" in their response thus far.
The group confronted CAMFT on their decision to allow therapist Lisa Maurel, who called on practitioners of reparative therapy to be kicked out of the association, to speak at CAMFT's conference focusing on LGBT "diversity." Executive Director Mary Riemersma reportedly responded that, in the words of the TERF intern, "just because someone's a presenter, that doesn't mean that we at CAMFT agree with everything that they say." Riemersma did not respond to LSN's request for comment as of press time.
The intern said the leadership's response was hypocritical.
"It seems really inconsistent to say: we're inviting somebody to be a presenter at our annual conference, [and] what they say doesn't have to be factual or accurate, yet we kicked out eight articles from our magazine because they were not accurate and they were not factual," she said. "We're not buying that response."
TERF expects CAMFT to settle on a position regarding reparative therapy at their board meeting June 12. Meanwhile, pro-family therapists have been taking heat from homosexualist CAMFT members that learned about the TERF letter.
"The other side is pushing, they found out about our letter," said the intern. "At this point CAMFT is getting pressured from both sides, and it'll just be a matter of ... who's the most convincing, or who's the loudest."
Dr. Jerry Harris, a private practitioner of marriage and family therapy for 30 years, was the author of an article pulled from The Therapist that discussed the importance of reparative therapy for individuals with same-sex attraction.
"There are people who have feelings, same-sex feelings, whether they're male or female, and they don't like those," Harris told LifeSiteNews.com in a telephone interview. "Not everybody wants them, not everybody wants to be in the gay lifestyle ... and those people ought to have the option of having some therapy to help resolve those."
The practice of labeling practitioners of such therapy as "homophobic," he said, "doesn't help anything." "I don't believe I'm homophobic - but somebody who labels me as that, that kind of ends the discussion," he said, "because they don't want to get involved in how I feel, or how I believe, and why I feel or believe those, they just want to dismiss me."
Harris said he felt that the homosexualist lobbying was violating the integrity of the psychotherapy field. "It's way too political a thing that CAMFT is entering into," he said. "We don't have enough research on either side of the story."
But the level of intimidation used by the homosexualist lobby to push the agenda, Harris indicated, threatened to stifle all dialogue on the issue.
"I haven't heard of a bunch of faith-based counselors writing the gay people and telling them how terrible they are, but it's the other way around a fair amount," he said. "And people are getting pretty intimidated out there, that's why it's hard to get people on our side of the argument, if you will, to step forward, they're afraid of harassment, of being labeled, either homophobic or unfair or unqualified ... or them sending a test client in to see what you're going to say. There's all those kinds of fears out there."
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Gay 'Marriage' Activists Forcing Pro-Family Views out of California Therapist Association