Clinics Owned by Michele Bachmann’s Husband Practice ‘Ex-Gay Therapy’
Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus have been vehemently denying that they endorse the view that homosexuality can be “cured,” but now evidence has emerged that Marcus Bachmann’s clinics are deeply involved in the pseudo-science of “ex-gay therapy:” ‘God Has Created You for Heterosexuality’: Clinics Owned by Michele Bachmann’s Husband Practice Ex-Gay Therapy.
As Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann has surged in the polls, the spotlight has turned on her husband and main political adviser, Marcus Bachmann, who has a PhD in clinical psychology and owns two Christian counseling centers in Minnesota. There has been a great deal of speculation that his clinics, which have received $161,000 in state and federal funding, try to cure homosexuality—and the chatter has only grown louder since his comments likening gays to “barbarians” who “need to be educated” and “disciplined” surfaced in the blogosphere last week. Marcus Bachmann has denied these allegations. “That’s a false statement,” he replied when the Minneapolis City Pages asked if his clinic tried to cure gays. And until now there was no firm evidence to back these allegations up. But information obtained by The Nation suggests that Bachmann & Associates therapists do, in fact, try to change sexual orientation. It also sheds new light on the Bachmanns’ embrace of the controversial ex-gay movement and related psychological approaches, which portray homosexuality as a disease to be rooted out.
Some of the most potent material was provided by Truth Wins Out, a gay-rights group that opposes the ex-gay movement. In late June, a Truth Wins Out activist named John Becker donned two hidden cameras—one embedded in a wristwatch—and attended five treatment sessions at Bachmann’s Lake Elmo clinic. Becker, who is openly gay, presented himself as a committed Christian who was struggling with homosexuality. The video he collected seems to confirm Ramirez’s allegations that staff members at Bachmann & Associates try to change sexual orientation. Becker’s therapist (another of Marcus Bachmann’s employees) repeatedly assured him that homosexuality could be overcome. “At the core value…in terms of how God created us, we’re all heterosexual,” he explained, according to the footage. “God has created you for heterosexuality.” The therapist also mined Becker’s personal history for traumatic experiences that might have turned him gay. To curb Becker’s gay impulses, the therapist urged him to pray and read Scripture and suggested Becker “develop” his masculinity. He also encouraged him to find a “heterosexual guy” to act as act as an AA-type sponsor. Later, he referred Becker to Outpost Ministries, a church that helps “the sexually and relationally broken”—in other words, homosexuals—“find healing and restoration through relationship with Jesus Christ.”
At moments in the videos, Becker seemed to try to bait the therapist into saying something controversial. For instance, Becker brought up a conversation in which his brother told him that gay people could just as easily go to heaven as anyone else and pressed the therapist to say this wasn’t so: “I mean, he was wrong, right, with what he said? He was wrong, wasn’t he?” The therapist tried to dodge the question. Becker pressed him again, and the therapist changed the subject. In later sessions, Becker spoke excitedly about ex-gay literature he’d found, which raises the question: to what degree was the therapist simply following his lead?
Both Bachmann & Associates and the Bachmann campaign declined to comment for this story, though in the past Marcus Bachmann has insisted his clinics don’t push people to change their sexual orientation. “If someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay a homosexual, I don’t have a problem with that,” he told the Minneapolis City Pages. Nevertheless, the techniques the therapist at his Lake Elmo clinic used were typical of so-called reparative therapies, which cast homosexuality as a mental disorder and see conversion to heterosexuality as the only healthy outcome. “The explicit goal of the sessions was transforming Becker from homosexual to heterosexual,” says Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out’s executive director.