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Proof Unearthed of ’Ex Gay’ Therapy at Bachmann Clinic

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Jul 12, 2011
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The Daily Beast reports that Marcus Bachmann, the husband of GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann, may be unwilling to tell the world at large that "ex-gay" counseling goes on at his Christian counseling practice, but he was not so shy in 2005 when he gave a presentation called "The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda" to a gathering of anti-gay religious leaders at the Minnesota Pastors’ Summit -- a convocation built around efforts to get anti-gay laws on the books.

The July 10 article said that during the presentation, Marcus Bachmann made the claim that gays "choose" to be sexually and romantically attracted to people of the same sex. Bachmann also reportedly made the assertion -- challenged by reputable mental health professionals here and abroad -- that homosexuality can be "cured."

Marcus Bachmann declared that "homosexuality is both a choice and a threat," the article said. "As a finale, he brought up three people, including a prominent ex-gay activist named Janet Boynes, who testified about leaving homosexuality behind."

Since Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she will be seeking the GOP presidential nomination for next year’s election race, an array of troubling issues concerning the would-be candidate have surfaced, from the legal -- but ideologically inconsistent -- receipt of federal funds by Bachmann-affiliated business interests to Marcus Bachmann’s 2010 interview on a Christian radio broadcast in which he railed on patient-centered modalities of psychiatric care and declared that what gays need is "discipline" by "authority figures" such as himself because they are "barbarians" who threaten the sexual purity of America’s children.

But when he’s been asked directly about offering so-called "reparative therapy" at his practice, Marcus Bachmann has "denied it," the Daily Beast reported. "And over the years he has kept denying it, despite plenty of evidence that both he and Michele are deeply committed to the idea that homosexuality can be cured."

But Truth Wins Out -- an organization dedicated to countering the message of so-called "ex-gay" groups -- unearthed a young man named Andre Ramirez, who told The Nation that his stepfather forced him to seek "treatment" for being gay -- and that the treatment came from Marcus Bachmann’s clinic, which has received over $160,000 in state and federal funds.

"He said it was wrong, an abomination, that it was something he would not tolerate in his house," Ramirez recalled his father saying.

Something else Ramirez recalled was said to him: His counselor at Bachmann & Associates telling him that "being gay was not an acceptable lifestyle in God’s eyes," and insisting that the young man could be "cured."

By that, of course, the counselor meant that Ramirez could be "converted" into a heterosexual. The prescribed course of treatment? Bible study, worship at a church populated by so-called "ex gays," and "mentorship" from a woman who claimed once to have been a lesbian.

The question of whether or not sexual attraction can be altered is controversial, not least because it is a deeply personal issue that others cannot know in the same way that the individual does. Anti-gay evangelical churches take it as a matter of faith that gays are not born, but somehow result from early life trauma, a decision to be gay, or some combination of factors. Some even believe that homosexuality is the result of demonic possession.

All programs purporting to "cure" gays have one thing in common, however: They pathologize homosexuality, rather than acknowledging it as a consistent, and natural, variation in the realm of normal human sexuality.

It is not uncommon for heterosexuals to experiment with same-sex relationships when they are young. This does not, however, make them homosexual. As with gays who dabble in heterosexual relationships before understanding who they are, straights who have gay relationships cannot simply "change" into gays because of those experiences.

Some individuals describe their "conversions" as a matter of squelching same-sex attractions while concentrating on sexual and romantic feelings for people of the opposite sex. What is unclear in such cases is whether the "Ex gays" are truly gay, or bisexual.

Moreover, many "ex gays" describe their inner lives as a daily "struggle" against innate same-sex attraction. Some describe conquering homosexual attraction only at the cost of all sexual impulses, leaving them without conscious sexual urges of any sort.

Reputable mental health professionals warn that trying to "cure" gays can lead to disastrous consequences. Some gays attempting to "convert" experience deeply traumatic emotional suffering; some even commit suicide.

Ramirez chose not to put himself through that. After only two appointments, he arrived at the conclusion that the course of "therapy" to which he was being subjected was not beneficial.

"I didn’t feel it was something that I wanted to change, and I didn’t think it could be changed," Ramirez told The Nation. "I was OK with who I was."

The Nation reported that a man employed by Truth Wins Out, John Becker, went to Bachmann’s clinic outfitted with a pair of hidden cameras. Becker went through five treatment sessions, with the counselor assuring him that "[W]e’re all heterosexual," and telling him, "God has created you for heterosexuality."

The counselor entertained no notion other than that gays are "sexually and relationally broken" individuals who need to be "healed" of their homosexuality. He told Becker to seek out a straight man to serve as a guide to masculinity, and probed him for early life traumas to account for why he should be gay.

"Neither Bachmann nor many of his therapists, it’s important to note, have serious psychological training," reported The Daily Beast, noting that Bachmann’s "Ph.D. comes from the Union Institute, a Cincinnati-based correspondence school.... he’s not licensed with any of the boards that certify mental-health professionals in Minnesota, one of the few states that allows unlicensed people to practice mental-health care."

As for Becker’s counselor, The Daily Beast article said, he graduated "from Argosy University, a for-profit diploma mill."

The Nation noted that Becker seemed at times to be leading the counselor with his questions and lines of conversation, but also noted that the overall approach adopted by the counselor seemed to defy Marcus Bachmann’s statement that his practice does not attempt to "cure" gays.

"[T]he 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 Nation article said.

Next: ’Do No Harm’ vs. ’Repairing’ Gays



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