By Kathleen Gilbert

SAN DIEGO, California, March 15, 2010 ( – Abandoning its long-held neutrality on the marriage debate, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) has slowly come to disavow pro-family views and sexual orientation therapy as “homophobic.” Instead it now warmly supports homosexuality as a “normal and positive” variant of sexuality – all thanks to pressure by gay activists who have openly vowed to transform the organization from within.

The disturbing result of the activists' tactics, says one anonymous CAMFT intern, is that pro-family therapists in California are becoming increasingly afraid to speak up in favor of natural marriage and the family.

CAMFT, one of the largest therapist associations in California with over 30,000 members, had maintained a broadly neutral stance on same-sex “marriage” for most of its existence.

But in the run-up to California's vote on Proposition 8 banning same-sex “marriage” in November 2008, CAMFT's neutrality began drawing unfriendly attention. Gay activists pointed out that organizations such as The American Psychological Association, the California Psychological Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, had all come out in support of deconstructing the legal definition of marriage.

After Proposition 8 passed in November, the Los Angeles psychotherapist group Larchmont Associates launched the first major salvo against CAMFT: a petition threatening to cut ties with the association if they did not oppose Prop 8 in an amicus brief.  Meanwhile, Antioch University Los Angeles and Phillips Graduate Institute also encouraged students and faculty of psychology programs to shun CAMFT over the issue.

In a Jan 2009 letter to Larchmont and Antioch U. activists, CAMFT Executive Director Mary Riemersma wrote that advocating for same-sex “marriage” “is not CAMFT's purpose,” and expressed consternation at the “bullying” tactics used to push the issue.

“Our Board was troubled by your 'bullying' tactics and threats to abandon your involvement in the Association because the Board chooses to take a course different than you demand,” Riemersma wrote.  

“And while the Board understands that each of you can and will make your own decisions about your future involvement in CAMFT,” she continued, “it is very disturbing that those of you affiliated with Antioch would jeopardize the wellbeing of your students and their future careers by failing to inform them of CAMFT's importance to their careers and the many resources available to them from CAMFT. 

“That is not only disheartening, it is in fact frightening.”

CAMFT's continued silence on the issue then incited the formation of California Therapists for Marriage Equality (CTME) – the direct product, says the group, of a Feb 2009 meeting in San Francisco “to strategize how to pressure CAMFT to take a stand on marriage equality.” 

CTME acknowledges that it “very strongly believes in the efforts of those dedicated to change 'from within,'” and that the group hopes to begin “reconstituting the Board” to advance their agenda, as well as pressure the group by withholding dues and other initiatives.

As pressure continued to mount, CAMFT eventually responded by publishing several articles discussing the issue in the May/June issue of its magazine “The Therapist,” entitled “Tackling the Issues of Same-Sex Marriage.”  Yet this, too, garnered outrage from homosexual activists, as half the articles offered a perspective critical of same-sex “marriage:” including examinations of child-rearing in gay households, the effects of legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, and the detrimental effect of the marriage debate on religious counselors.  

CTME quickly launched a petition demanding that CAMFT retract the articles, apologize for them, formally assent to same-sex “marriage,” create and maintain “an LGBTQ Task Force of LGBTQ people an their allies,” allow such members on its Board, publish a magazine with content condemning “homophobia,” and “promptly schedule an LGBTQ sensitivity training for all members of the CAMFT Board and management.” 


Since then, CAMFT has complied with at least the first three requirements. It has also signed an amicus curiae brief as requested by the Larchmont petition. Meanwhile, according to insider information, at least one high-ranking CAMFT leader was essentially forced to resign, based on that individual's strong stance in favor of traditional marriage.


The East Bay chapter of CAMFT went a step further earlier this month, issuing a statement denouncing all therapy aimed at helping struggling individuals repudiate the homosexual lifestyle. 

East Bay CAMFT asserted that “homosexuality is not a condition needing treatment or cure,” and described “scientific facts” it considered the basis for “affirmative therapeutic approaches,” including the notion that “same-sex sexual behavior, attractions and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality.”  The group now condemns change-oriented therapy as having no “enduring benefit” and only causing “harm,” and blames the prevalence of mental illness among homosexuals on “stress as a result of social prejudice against homosexuality.”

The local chapter is urging CAMFT to adopt the statement. 

In April, CAMFT will host an annual conference in Los Angeles, with the theme of “diversity.”

A celebratory announcement on CTME's website credits “countless hours and the efforts of hundreds” who pressured CAMFT for the shift in viewpoint.

Dr. Trayce Hansen, author of one of the pro-family articles pulled by CAMFT, told (LSN) that lobbying by groups such as CMTE “damage[s] the integrity of the psychological sciences as well as the professional organizations who capitulate to their demands.” 

“Organizations such as CAMFT should not take socio-political positions dictated by activist groups utilizing coercive tactics,” said Hansen. “If CAMFT wants to be taken seriously as a scientific organization, its positions need to be rooted in science.”

A CAMFT intern who wished to remain anonymous said that the gay activists' ability to cow pro-family therapists into silence continues to present an enormous hurdle.

“The big problem is that the conservative people are afraid, so nobody's speaking up,” the intern told LSN. “Because if you speak up and say, 'I'm opposed to this,' people are afraid, like they're going to boycott you, or come in into your practice, and try to be a test case.”

The intern explained that if a therapist publishes his or her stance against providing counseling to gay couples, they leave themselves open to being “set up” by homosexual activists. “The only people who really do speak up are anonymous, and there are very few of even those.”

“It's not over,” the intern said. “People need to be aware of what's going on, because if nobody speaks up, the momentum's going to keep going.”

The intern is co-founder of Therapists Embracing Religious Freedom, a coalition of psychotherapists and their supporters created to fight back against the marginalization of religious conviction by homosexualists in their field.

Click here to see Therapists Embracing Religious Freedom's Facebook page.