Marcus Bachmann’s Ex-Gay Problem
July 7th, 2011
This is very old news, but it certainly is worth bringing up again now that Rep. Michele Bachmann is mounting a serious campaign to capture the GOP nomination for the presidency. In 2006, the Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages ran an extensive profile of Michele Bachmann (via archive.org) just as she was about to be elected to Congress for the first time. The profile delved into Bachmann’s extremist religious and political background, and how her use of anti-gay politics as a wedge issue drove a wedge between Bachmann and her own family — which includes a gay stepsister.
The profile also revealed that her husband, Marcus Bachmann has played an important part in her political and religious development. In the Bachmann’s worldview, the man is the head of the household, and the wife is subservient to her husband. As Marcus Bachmann’s older brother explains it, “He is her godly husband… The husband is to be the head of the wife, according to God.” Michele told one church congregation in 2006 that she pursued her degree in tax law only because her husband had told her to. “The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands,” she is quoted as saying. All of which makes Dr. Bachmann’s views all the more relevant, and the 2006 City Pages report (via archive.org) pertinent:
While Michele Bachmann was rising through the political ranks, her husband Marcus—a lumbering, soft-featured man—was working toward a psychology doctorate and a practice in Lake Elmo. There is an overt Christian theme attached to the practice. “Bachmann and Associates believes in providing all clients with quality counseling in a Christian environment,” reads the mission statement on the business’s website. Some of the listed specialties of the clinic and its counselors include “abuse issues,” “co-dependency,” “men’s and women’s issues,” “shame,” and “spiritual issues.”
But some observers claim that the mission of the practice includes counseling homosexuals in an effort to “ungay” them. “It is absolutely sincere,” adds former school board member (Mary) Cecconi. “They specialize in ‘reparation’ regarding sexual orientation.”
Marcus Bachmann, who is also 50, denies that is part of his clinic’s practice. “That’s a false statement,” he says, refusing to answer any questions that don’t have to do with Bachmann and Associates. “Am I aware that the perception is out there? I can’t comment on that.” Still, Bachmann offers, “If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that. But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don’t have a problem with that.”
City Pages found evidence that Dr. Bachmann has more than a passing interest in the ex-gay movement:
Last November (2005), the Bachmanns attended a “Minnesota Pastors’ Summit” at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. Some 300 religious leaders participated in the event, which was organized by the conservative, antigay Minnesota Family Council. Michele Bachmann was there to lead a session on the gay marriage amendment, while Marcus offered a presentation titled “The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda.”
Curt Prins, a 35-year-old marketing executive from Minneapolis, attended. Prins, who is gay, says he went because he was “curious” and wanted to “understand the language” of the antigay movement. “There was so much bile, I nearly had to leave,” Prins recalls. For Marcus Bachmann’s session, Prins says there were more than 100 people crammed in a room at Grace, and most of the presentation involved stereotypes of gays. “He was saying how homosexuality was a choice, that it was not genetics,” Prins says. “He was claiming there was a high predominance of sexual abuse in the GLBT community. There was no research to back any of this up.” (Marcus Bachmann refused to answer questions about the seminar.)
The climax of the presentation was when, according to Prins, Bachmann brought up “three ex-gays, like part of a PowerPoint presentation.” The trio, two white men and a black woman, all testified that they had renounced their homosexuality. “One of them said, ‘If I was born gay, then I’ll have to be born again,’” Prins recalls. “The crowd went crazy.”
While Bachmann claims that charges that he engages in ex-gay therapy are “a false statement,” he clearly has an interest in the ex-gay movement. In a radio interview last year, he discussed what kind of advice he would give to parents who came into his practice with a child who they feared might be gay. Speaking specifically of those children, Bachmann said:
We have to understand: barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature. We have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps.
Likening gay kids to barbarians who “need to be disciplined” raises all sorts of red flags for the kind of treatment those children might experience based on Bachmann’s advice. Just last month, we revealed the story of five year old Kirk Andrew Murphy who was treated to a draconian disciplining program under the direction of George Rekers. Rekers would go on to hold Kirk up as his most dramatic success story throughout his career. That career, like the Bachmann’s, took a turn towards anti-gay politics in the 1980s when he co-founded the Family Research Council, and then further in the 1990s and 2000s with the ex-gay movement when he served on the Board of Directors and the Scientific Advisory Committee for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Bachmann’s statement indicates that he would favor an approach to gender-variant children that would share similarities to Rekers’s, with all of the potential that has for further suffering and tragedy.
Questions about Bachmann’s practice go beyond the ethical. There are also legal considerations as well, specifically the reported $100,000 in Medicaid payments his practice has taken in over the years. Did U.S. tax dollars go towards financing that scientifically discredited and dangerous practice to “cure” something that is not an illness? Again, we are reminded that Kirk Murphy’s “treatment” by George Rekerswas also paid for by taxpayer dollars through grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. And we also know that, according to Rekers, at least one hundred other children endured similar therapy at UCLA in the 1970s and 1980s, much of it on the government dime.
Today, all major medical, mental health, and counseling organizations oppose ex-gay therapy. In an exhaustive review of the professional peer-reviewed literature, the American Psychological Association concluded (PDF: 816KB/138 pages) that “enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon” and that “there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm” from such therapies. If Bachmannis performing ex-gay therapy, either directly or indirectly through the advice he is giving parents, then an investigation into what those Medicaid payments goes for is warranted.