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  • December 11, 2014 7:02 AM | Myles Downes (Administrator)

    Part of Gaylesta’s charter is to “promote awareness among mental health workers of cross-cultural issues such as race/ethnicity, age, ability, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, and class.”

    Gaylesta stands in solidarity with the organizations and individuals who are voicing their concerns about the social injustices of our time. Along with those who are nonviolently protesting, we grieve the early deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and other people of color who have died due to excessive force from the police.  As LGBTQ mental health professionals, we know the cost of inequality and we acknowledge and honor the grief, anger, and frustration that is being felt at this time. We urge clinicians to educate themselves as to the institutionalized racism embedded in our society and to support the growing movement to demand its eradication.

    To find out more about the movement that is underway, go to Blacklivesmatter.com.


    Gaylesta Board of Directors and Advocacy Committee

  • September 22, 2014 8:07 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Statement by Beth Greivel:

    Thank you for this time to speak.  I’m Elizabeth Greivel, and I’m the author of the proposal to ban the practice of sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE for short, in the Code of Ethics. My motivation for being here today is rooted in four years of volunteer work for the GLBT National Hotline, where during every shift I would hear callers who, because of fear of rejection or abuse, found it safer to talk to a stranger than their loved ones or therapists about their sexual orientations or gender identities.  Many of these callers had suffered from or were in the middle of SOCE therapies, and the despair they felt was palpable over the telephone lines, that their therapists did not understand a core notion of their humanity.

    It can be difficult to grasp the concept of SOCE and how much they hurt the LGBTQIQA population.  Let me offer a metaphor I’ve found helpful.

    Imagine that we as a society are uncomfortable with those who are tall. People under 5’ 10” are okay, but those over 6’? They’re just too tall. They make up less than 10% of the population, but we think that they expect too much special treatment. Specially made clothes ... basketball is just flaunting things. They say tallness is all biology, but throughout history, people were shorter. Is it genetics? Do they eat too many vegetables?

    If Michael Jordan grew up in that environment, he'd be a pariah. His therapist might have to fight internal biases to make sure Michael was supported as he naturally is. I would certainly hope Michael would not end up in an SOCE-like therapy where he was encouraged to stoop or even crawl to make everyone else feel more comfortable with his natural height.

    This is the essence of SOCE. Individuals are in pain because social or religious values have told them that an integral part of who they are is inadequate or deviant. Then they are met with insidious efforts where "change" means making an individual feel worse about themselves for being different, and being encouraged to act like someone they are not. The net result being an increased risk of depression and suicidality.

    I have two requests.
    1. Push the proposal I submitted to ban SOCE in the Code of Ethics through the Ethics Committee as quickly as possible. We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of mental health organizations by banning these harmful practices that do not work.
    2. In the interim, accept the excellent proposed SOCE statement Ms. Atkins drafted, and strengthen it so that it is clear that it applies to ALL AGES, and that the onus of responsibility for checking bias is on the therapist, not the client or patient. Every other mental health organization has done at least this, and our credibility are undermined by not meeting the Standard of Practice.
    Lives are at stake here.  Members of CAMFT are actively causing harm. Therapists who have admitted in writing to practicing SOCE on minors have been referred to CAMFT under our current Code of Ethics, and have not been found in violation.  

    Whether it’s a minor or an adult -- SOCE are false and harmful practices not worthy of the name Marriage and Family Therapist, and CAMFT needs to do more to protect the LGBTQIQA population. This is a clinical issue.



    Statement by James Guay:

    CAMFT needs to prioritize the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer clients undefined sexual and gender minorities undefined over the income and licensure of psychotherapists who are harming them.  Therapist should not be protected when they recklessly abandon their basic tenet of “do no harm,” misuse therapeutic tools to harm their clients and exhibit extreme prejudice in doing so.


    Therapists are not in the business of helping our clients become more fake, inauthentic, or to deceive themselves or others.  We are in the business of healing and growth, of compassion and authenticity.

    California State’s Legislature, Governor, and Supreme Court, along with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and US Supreme Court in addition to all other major professional association, have sided on the rights/protections of LGBTQ youth from psychotherapists using sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

    CAMFT undefined as a professional association for MFT’s, not a legislative or judicial body undefined can and should go an important step further to make a strong statement against the use of SOCE on minors AND adults.  Fraudulent and abusive practices are fraudulent and abusive practices, regardless of the age of the client.  There is more than enough evidence and support out there for CAMFT to take action.  There doesn’t need to be a special committee or resources used within CAMFT to figure out that this is an ineffective and harmful practice.

    There is no slippery slope here in regulating theoretical orientations or treatment modalities because SOCE is abusive, culturally incompetent and treating a “non-existent disorder” that is no longer in the DSM.  SOCE therapists prey on their clients’ internalized homophobia to try and effect change.  They misappropriate psychological language and social justice terminology to advocate harming LGBTQ clients and it needs to stop.  CAMFT needs to send a strong message that this practice is no longer permissible. The public also needs to be protected from the exploitative teaching of SOCE to other clinicians.

    There are several benefits for CAMFT making a strong & bold statement against SOCE for youth AND adults.  These include:


    • Increased credibility & legitimacy (aka public trust) of MFT’s for being in synch with the most current scientific research available;
    • Increased institutional and professional integrity when we prioritize client/public protection over clinician’s income or practice;
    • Increased institutional cultural competence and value provided to LGBTQ clients, therapists and their allies;
    • and, increased time-savings and better allocation of resources when demonstrating pro-active ethical integrity.


    This isn’t about politics, this is about protection.  It is unacceptable to use the excuse that CAMFT is a slow moving organization and that small steps are sufficient.

    Be bold.  

    Protecting clients protects legitimate and responsible clinicians.  I urge you to come out strongly against SOCE on minors AND adults!  Anything less is negligent and harmful.

    Let’s move forward in the right direction, together.



    Statement by Jim Walker:

    My name is Jim Walker and I deeply appreciate speaking today.


    I’m passionate that no shame or prejudice is inflicted by our profession on LGBTQ people.

    Recently I worked with a client who deeply regretted trying SOCE.

    Several years before starting therapy with me, his son came out to him and his mother. My client told him he disapproved. He told him he was sinning.

    At the same time he hurt her so much, he struggled constantly with his same-sex attractions. Being very involved in his church was at the center of his life. He knew others in his church struggled with being gay and bi. He tried SOCE with a psychologist. He dedicated himself to it spending thousands of dollars. He told me attempting SOCE really hurt him psychologically and made him unable to help his son and others in his church.

    SOCE failed. Their marriage ended. He not only had to heal from the damage SOCE did to him, he had to repair the damage he had done to everyone in his family and his church.

    After he started accepting himself, they were able to repair some of that damage and he was able to work for marriage equality in his faith.

    Today you have the opportunity to do something important about our clients’ suffering.

    Thanks to the remarkable Beth Greivel you have a proposal involving needed ethics code changes.

    Over 880 members and 6 chapters want you to endorse that proposal this weekend.
     
    The other proposal before you was prepared by CAMFT.

    That proposal needs to say SOCE is not ethical for CAMFT members. 

    Earlier this year 9 former leaders of SOCE apologized for many years of exploiting people’s hopes and fears. They wrote:

    "As former "ex-gay" leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy.

    It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives."

    This weekend show you’re committed to protecting clients from SOCE.

    Send Beth’s proposal to the Ethics Committee and issue a statement to the membership that SOCE is not an ethical practice for our members.

    As the former SOCE leaders said, “It is much more productive to support, counsel and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.”

    Thank you.



    Statement by Jay Paul:

    My name is Jay Paul; thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I have been a CAMFT member since 1988. However, as a gay man, in recent years I felt alienated and questioned whether this organization truly represented me. My hope is that this is a significant time of change for CAMFT. I urge you to expedite the adoption of Elizabeth Greivel’s proposed additions to the CAMFT Code of Ethics.


    Others’ eloquence about the risks of harm to clients from SOCE, allows me to focus on another concern raised by these practices. To do that, I need first mention the famous 1978 Bell & Weinberg study, “Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men & Women.”

    The researchers asked their sample whether they would currently wish to take a “magic pill” which would change their sexuality to heterosexuality. A brief means of assessing satisfaction versus discomfort with their sexuality. As it turned out, relatively few expressed interest in such a pill.

    SOCE practitioners will argue that they are providing a service to those who wish for that magic pill. However as healthcare professionals, we cannot uncritically indulge our clients’ wishes. The Internet and TV may convince people that they have a diagnosable disorder, and that a particular medication will be a panacea. However when they follow up with a physician, a competent doctor should be aware of viable alternatives, and can provide a more realistic perspective on diagnoses, treatments and suitable options.

    Similarly, a client may come to us in great distress, believing that their sexual orientation is pathological, immoral and/or a deficiency, insisting that their only hope is to become heterosexual. As in the pill analogy, our necessary next step should entail exploring a client’s situation and desires in an unbiased manner. Paradoxically, this is something that is outside the scope of clinical competence of those offering SOCE.

    Their theoretical perspectives and so-called “therapeutic” strategies indicate that they are woefully ill-informed about sexual orientation. Those who advocate SOCE ascribe legitimacy to long-debunked myths of the “causes” of homosexuality, and to curative strategies that meld sexual orientation and gender role behavior.

    Their biases mean that they are neither informed about nor competent to work with LGBTQ clients. They lack detailed knowledge of the LGBTQ communities and social resources, same-sex relationships, and the impact of social stigmatization on well-being and mental health. Further, they have a built-in bias to attribute an LGBTQ individual’s distress to their sexual orientation rather than life circumstance unrelated to their sexuality.

    Being capable only of efforts directed at moving someone AWAY from an LGBTQ identity, they are not equipped to explore a client’s sources of conflict or distress and find alternative resolutions.

    By forbidding SOCE with clients of any age, you are telling a category of providers that they lack the necessary training to truly serve a class of patients.

    Thank you.

  • September 22, 2014 7:53 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    This past Saturday was a triumph of which Gaylesta members can be proud. To describe what occurred, Guy Albert wrote a wonderful letter on the membership listserv; it is repeated below in a slightly edited fashion. In addition, I have posted the statements to the CAMFT Board presented by Gaylesta Advocacy Committee members.

    ----------

    As a proud member of Gaylesta's Advocacy Committee, I want to inform the Gaylesta membership of an important event that occurred this past weekend, likely unbeknownst to many of you.  On Saturday, September 20th, several Advocacy Committee members attended the CAMFT Board meeting at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. As CAMFT members, they showed up to speak in support of a proposal submitted by Beth Grievel requesting that CAMFT amend its Code of Ethics to prohibit Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) by its members. In addition, this proposal asked the Board to make a strong statement condemning the practice of SOCE with all people, including adults. Because of their work, the CAMFT Board approved sending the proposed Code of Ethics revisions to the Ethics Committee for review, and adopted a clear statement against SOCE based upon a prior position statement by the American Psychiatric Association.


    I am awed and amazed with the persistence of our Advocacy members in achieving this important milestone. This Saturday's events at the CAMFT Board meeting were the culmination of months of hard work by Advocacy members on top of several years of prior effort and concerted networking.


    This important victory could not have happened without Beth Grievel's crafting of a strong proposal, in conjunction with having spearheaded an extraordinary petition drive. Jim Walker worked tirelessly to promote the petition, contacting CAMFT members and allies and succeeding in getting the support of several regional boards. Jim's efforts to communicate with the CAMFT Board and staff started back in 2010, and he has been steadfast in his attempts to educate them and heighten their awareness. James Guay created a video to accompany this effort and flew up from Los Angeles to speak to the Board along with our other colleagues. This is testament to James' ongoing efforts to fight SOCE and to communicate the danger and harm of these practices to the public. One of our Co-Presidents, Jay Paul, spoke to the Board as well. Deborah Cooper, who recently completed her term as Co-President, not only attended, but spoke extemporaneously when there was extra time on the agenda. Other Gaylesta members and local CAMFT organization members also were present to drive home the importance of this proposal to the CAMFT Board.


    Please join me in celebrating this victory for Gaylesta, for CAMFT, and especially for LGBTQQI people in California and everywhere. This piece of advocacy continues to send a strong message to the world that we will not stand idle while the people we care about and serve are being harmed.


    --- Guy Albert, PhD

  • July 11, 2014 12:00 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    Beth Greivel, a graduate student at The Wright Institute in Berkeley and a new Gaylesta member, submitted a petition to the CAMFT Board of Directors on July 9th, requesting that CAMFT make changes to their Code of Ethics that would denounce sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are the largest group of licensed mental health professionals in the State of California, and CAMFT (The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) should represent their interests. Our hope is that CAMFT will formally acknowledge that SOCE therapists mislead clients about what they provide, fail to provide appropriate services, and instead cause serious harm to clients by reinforcing negative societal messages about LGBTQIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, questioning, asexual) individuals. We hope that CAMFT will make its members understand that those who offer such unethical and harmful therapies are not welcome in the organization.


    Many people provided input into the final proposal, including many in Gaylesta's Advocacy Committee. However, the driving force in all this has been Beth Greivel, and she deserves our recognition for her efforts. We encourage you to read this proposal; it can be found online at http://www.convertmfts.org/.


    If you are a CAMFT member, your attendance at the Board meeting (September 20th & 21st at The Claremont Hotel in Berkeley) would send a strong message to the Board about the importance of adopting this proposal. If you wish to attend, you must email CAMFT in advance. (Submit your request to Andrea Redd at aredd@camft.org.) Please do that NOW so that they reserve a room large enough to seat all who are interested. Proponents of SOCE and others who oppose this proposal may also attend. We urge you to consider speaking in support of the changes outlined in the submitted proposal. A number of us in Gaylesta already have made plans to attend this meeting; we hope to see many of you there as well.


    As soon as the meeting agenda is finalized and it is known when this proposal will be reviewed, we will post the information on our website. We anticipate that many who wish to attend this discussion may not be interested in attending the full two days of the meeting (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM on Satuday, and 8:30 AM - 12 Noon on Sunday). Check back on this website for updates to learn of any further developments or news on this proposal.


  • July 01, 2014 6:22 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)

    On Monday, June 30th, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) finally indicated that they would not grant certiorari (would not be reviewing) two cases filed against California's ban on "sexual orientation change efforts" (SOCE) with minors -- a practice also known as "reparative therapy" or "gay conversion therapy." After California's law (SB 1172) was passed, two challenges were filed against the law (Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown), but the Ninth Circuit Court had denied those challenges. The Circuit Court ruled that the law was a reasonable regulation of professional conduct, and rejected the contention of those challenging the law that it violated "free speech rights" of therapists and patients, as well as violating "parents' rights." While that ruling was appealed, the law could not be enforced, and therapists such as Pickup or Welch were free to continue to offer SOCE to minors in California (and by personal admission did engage in this practice). As the SCOTUS has declined to hear the appeal, SB 1172 can now be enforced to the full extent of the law.


    Having been involved from the outset in the effort to get SB 1172 passed, with members of our organization working very hard on this issue, Gaylesta celebrates this victory with both pride and relief. The battle is not yet over, however, as SOCE can still be offered to adults as a supposedly legitimate form of psychotherapy. We will continue to press forward and fight this practice with adults as well. SOCE only causes further suffering to LGBT individuals, provided by psychotherapists who reinforce the worst of our society's prejudices. These psychotherapists ignore known facts about these practices: research evidence as well as personal stories have shown their harmfulness; they are based upon theories and concepts of sexuality that were dismissed long ago; offering SOCE as "therapy" can be challenged as unethical on many levels.  Continue to watch the Gaylesta website for more news on this issue.

  • April 11, 2014 12:40 PM | Guy Albert (Administrator)

    I sent the following letter to the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) Board members a couple of days ago. Last week, CAMFT published an ad in The Therapist by the American Association of Christian Counselors in which Tony Perkins, a well-known anti-LGBT activist, was featured as a plenary session speaker. Here is my response to the publication of this ad.

    -------------------------------------------------

    April 10, 2014

     

    Dear CAMFT Board members,

     

    I recently learned that CAMFT published an ad for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) in its most recent issue of The Therapist (March/April 2014). The full page ad for the “International Marriage & Family Summit” appears to be strategically placed just before the CAMFT Annual Conference spread. The ad could easily be mistaken for being part of the CAMFT conference. The AACC recently appeared in the news as one of 3 plaintiffs in the case against New Jersey’s bill to protect youth from SOCE. CAMFT is therefore running an ad for an organization that is defending SOCE practitioners in court.

     

    What is most egregious about the ad is that Tony Perkins is listed as one of the plenary session speakers at the AACC summit. Perkins, president of the evangelical Family Research Council, is known for his repeated vile attacks against LGBT people. In an All Things Considered (NPR) report, Perkins said, "These young people who identify as gay or lesbian, we know from the social science that they have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict” (10/26/2010).

     

    Perkins essentially claims that the much higher rate of suicide among LGBT youth is caused by an abnormality that leads them to despair. He dismisses the notion that the roots of this despair might lie in the marginalization, the bullying, and the rejection that many LGBT kids experience, the very marginalization he and his organization espouses. Further, the “social science” is he referring to is obviously rooted in an ideological perspective that has no basis in science. He has also repeatedly linked gay men and lesbians to pedophiles, with no scientific basis for his assertions. In 1996, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the contact list of former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, in a political campaign. He then tried to hide this information and was fined for doing so.

     

    I understand that CAMFT has a policy of accepting advertisement money without espousing the views held by the advertiser. I nonetheless doubt that CAMFT is really seeking such an indiscriminate and open view of your advertising that you would accept submissions from anyone, even if their perspectives were racist, misogynistic, or violent.

     

    As was previously noted by some colleagues of mine, and as I continue to experience, CAMFT’s printing of this advertisement in such a prominent location in the publication builds upon its reputation as an organization that supports the marginalization of LGBT people. I am awaiting the CAMFT Board’s response regarding this matter.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Guy Albert, Ph.D.

    3036 Regent Street,

    Berkeley, CA 94705-2551

    Voice mail: 510-496-3447  Fax: 510-849-2219

    http://guyalbert.com
  • March 15, 2014 12:00 PM | Jay Philip Paul (Administrator)
    To read the full story on GaystarNews.com, click on this link.
    A 30-year-old Chinese man filed a court case on Thursday (March 13) against Baidu (the fifth most frequently used website in the world) for promoting gay conversion therapy in its search results.
    In the next few days, the Beijing court will decide whether to proceed with the lawsuit against Baidu and Chongqing-based Xin Yu Piao Xiang (XYPX). Baidu displayed advertising by XYPX that promised to cure homosexuality. The course of treatment provided to the Chinese man filing the suit (going by the name 'Xiao Zhen') involved electroshock therapy. Despite cutting short the treatment, the consequence has been increased emotional distress for Xiao Zhen.
    According to volunteer lawyer, Huang Yizhi, Baidu has broken various laws for displaying advertisements by XYPX with false claims and giving priority to such claims in searches. XYPX is charged with making false promotional claims.
  • March 13, 2014 11:01 AM | Myles Downes (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release:

    San Francisco, March 13, 2014

     

    SB1172 was to become effective in January 2013. It has faced legal challenges since December 2012. SB1172 protects minors from the practice of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) by licensed therapists in the State of California. These practices have not only been found ineffective, but are coercive and potentially harmful. CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) -- unlike most other professional associations of mental health practitioners -- has not denounced the practice of SOCE. In fact, the plaintiffs who are challenging SB1172 in court are CAMFT members. 

     

    In the past week, CAMFT members who practice SOCE sent an email blast from "Therapists Concerned About Clients." Kevin Bergen, President of the Long Beach Chapter of CAMFT, allegedly used his position to access CAMFT mailing lists for this blast. The email charged other CAMFT members with "ethics violations” because they are working to ban SOCE and urged recipients to vote against those CAMFT board candidates who supported this work in the upcoming elections. 

     

    Gaylesta, the LGBTQ Psychotherapy Association demands that CAMFT take disciplinary measures with regard to the email blast. The appropriation of its email list for the promotion of a personal agenda should be properly addressed. Those who sent it, some of whom provide SOCE with minors are engaging in a practice that the three branches of California government have deemed illegal and unethical. All those who signed that blast and still practice SOCE with minors should lose their licenses as well as their CAMFT memberships.

    Links:

    Download Gaylesta's Letter to CAMFT Leadership

    Gaylesta.org – our Association's website's home page

    ConvertMFTs.com – petition to have CAMFT take a stand on SOCE

    Voices-of-change.org – the email blast sent from Kevin Bergen links to this page

     

    CONTACT:

    Deborah Cooper, MFT, Gaylesta  Co-President   415-902-2173  (out of country from March 14th until April 7th)

    Marea Murray, LCSW, Gaylesta Board Member and Advocacy Committee Chair  415-846-6309


    Click on this link to download a graphic created by Gaylesta member James Guay that clearly outlines CAMFT's history of heterosexist policies and actions.

  • March 10, 2014 3:30 PM | Myles Downes (Administrator)
    Posted by Jim Walker, Gaylesta Member

    Please sign this petition asking the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) to change their Code of Ethics to clearly state that SOCE practices are unethical for their members.
    http://www.convertmfts.org/

    A law protecting youth in California from SOCE by any licensed therapist was supposed to take effect in 2013. However, several California therapists - among them David Pickup, MFT, a CAMFT member--have stopped the law by repeatedly challenging it in court. This year Mr. Pickup is blocking the law from taking effect by taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Eventually the court will stop Mr. Pickup and other practitioners in California from blocking the law from taking effect. However the law only protects those under 18.

    By asking CAMFT to change their ethics for their 31,000 members, you will not only protect youth in California from SOCE being used by CAMFT members, you'll protect adults too from CAMFT members using it on them. CAMFT can provide extra protection from SOCE that the law can't. CAMFT changing their ethics will clearly educate the public and all therapists that SOCE is harmful and ineffective.

    In addition, certain CAMFT members also teach SOCE to other practitioners. By signing the petition, you'll stop people like Mr. Pickup from teaching their harmful practices to others when they're CAMFT members.

    Click on this link to download a graphic created by Gaylesta member James Guay that clearly outlines CAMFT's history of heterosexist policies and actions.

    Beth Greivel, a psychology grad student in Berkeley, launched this petition. Gaylesta proudly joins her in advocating for CAMFT changing their ethics and we urge everyone to sign her petition. Thanks very much!
  • February 22, 2014 7:40 AM | Myles Downes (Administrator)

    Gaylesta works to establish professional standards of appropriate LGBTQ-affirmative psychotherapy as well as to protect our population from harmful psychotherapy practices.  We were in the forefront of the movement to ban SOCE (sexual orientation change efforts, also known as ex-gay, conversion or reparative therapy) that led to the passage of SB 1172 in September, 2012.  This California law prohibits licensed mental health providers from practicing SOCE on minors.

     

    The need for such legislation emerged in 2010 when we became aware that the BBS, the licensing board for MFTs and LCSWs, had approved a well-known SOCE organization as a provider of continuing education for therapists.  We organized a letter writing campaign asking the BBS to prohibit these trainings, based on substantial research that such techniques are useless, fraudulent and result in substantial harm for clients subjected to these methods.  Since the BBS and the BOP (the licensing board for psychologists) took the position that they are merely enforcing state regulations on mental health, Gaylesta’s Advocacy Committee concluded that the most effective way to eradicate these practices was through legislation.

     

    Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) were the first legislators we contacted who took up this cause.  When Assemblyperson Ma’s legislative term was over, the work was carried forward by State Senators Ellen Corbett (D-Hayward) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).  Ultimately, Ted Lieu (D-Torrence) sponsored SB 1172.  As this bill took shape, Equality California (EQCA) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) became official sponsors and worked with legislators to ensure the bill’s passage.  AAMFT-CA (American Assoc. for Marriage and Family Therapy, Calif. Division) devoted considerable time and effort to shape a bill that mental health professional organizations could support.  We are grateful to all the organizations and individuals who worked on this bill, which is the first in the U.S. to prohibit SOCE for minors.

     

    Lawmakers in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Virginia have followed California’s lead in proposing bills of their own, and New Jersey now has a similar bill that was signed into law.

     

    SB 1172 was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013, but has been facing legal battles since it was signed.  Two lawsuits were filed in district courts in California to try to prevent the bill from being enacted.  The primary argument is that SB 1172 violates First Amendment rights of free speech.  However, the court has consistently ruled (both here and New Jersey, where their bill is being similarly challenged) that the law is an appropriate regulation of medical practices, and is not restricting free speech.  The plaintiffs are now asking the United States Supreme Court to hear the case.  We are waiting to hear a decision from the Court.  If they opt not to take up this case, the law goes into effect without further delay.

     

    While we recognize the importance of this landmark legislation in protecting the well being of minors, we hope to see a total ban on SOCE.  This practice perpetuates the belief that LGBTQ people are sick, and that sexuality can be changed with enough effort.  The effect of these beliefs on LGBTQ individuals is often severe depression and suicide attempts as well as misery for their spouses and children.

     

    While most mental health organizations have taken strong stands against SOCE, there is one notable exception.  CAMFT (California Assoc. of Marriage and Family Therapists) has not taken a stand in denouncing this practice, and the plaintiffs who are challenging SB 1172 in court are CAMFT members.  This is consistent with CAMFT’s reluctance to support marriage equality despite significant pressure from many of its members, as well as their lack of support for other legislation that supports the mental health of LGBTQ people.

     

    We urge our membership, our community and our allies to help spread the word about SOCE and support the ban of this harmful practice.  We will continue to work for a clear delineation between mental health practices and religious beliefs, and for the acceptance of LGBTQ people in all sectors of society.

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