It’s Confirmed: Marcus Bachmann’s Clinic Practices Ex-Gay Therapy
July 8th, 2011
Rep. Michele Bachmann’s political adviser and “Godly husband,” Dr. Marcus Bachman, denied in 2006 that his Minnesota clinic, Bachmann and Associates, practices ex-gay therapy — even though he promoted the ex-gay movement at a pastoral conference the year before, and in 2010 he spoke of gay children as “barbarians” that “need to be disciplined.” That last bit of advice — disciplining gay children — is eerily familiar after BTB’s original investigation last month revealing that ex-gay therapist George Rekers’s most famous patient, four-year-old “Kraig”, was actually Kirk Andrew Murphy, who remained gay and committed suicide in 2003. Kirk was also “disciplined” as a very young boy while under Rekers’s direction.
Now we have confirmation that Bachmann and Associates does, in fact, offer ex-gay therapy. John Becker, Truth Wins Out’s Director of Communications and Development, attended five private sessions with Bachmann & Associates counselor Timothy Wiertzema:
During the sessions, Wiertzema claimed that it was possible to change from gay to straight through prayer and therapy. During the third session Wiertzema said, “…it’s possible to be totally free of [same-sex attraction]. For sure.” and that “It’s happened! It really has happened to people.” In the fifth session, Wiertzema says, “…obviously your goal is not to have any feelings of attraction for men…And I really am going to recommend that we start working on how you can develop your attractions towards women.”
…During session 5, Wiertzema advised Becker to “further develop your own sense of masculinity.” Reparative therapy reinforces strict gender roles and works to erase outward appearances of femininity in men and masculinity in women. Because these programs do not genuinely change sexual orientation, much focus is placed on changing behavior so an individual can “pass” as heterosexual, even if the gay person has not changed on the inside.
“Passing” is all that a substantial number ex-gay programs really care about, simply because it is the best-case scenario anyone can truly hope for. Exodus International president Alan Chambers often says that he struggles daily to keep from doing “what comes naturally to me.” But constantly struggling to pass can carry with it enormous consequences. Again, Kirk Murphy’s case is illustrative. As a very young boy, he was taught that revealing who he really was would have dangerous physical consequences for him, and so as he got older he continued to suppress his emerging sexuality, fully aware that “I can’t act that way or people will know that I’m different.” He suppressed it so successfully that his doctors at UCLA did not notice that Kirk not only wasn’t straight, but also was under tremendous emotional duress.
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. But of course, patients going into clinics like Bachmann’s will never know it. There is no such thing as informed consent in those kinds of settings:
[Becker] was never informed about possible alternative treatment options such as gay-affirmative therapy. Nobody ever told Becker about the potential for harmful side effects like depression and suicidal thoughts. And although he was asked to sign a treatment plan outlining his problem, desired outcome, and treatment strategy, he was never given nor asked to sign any kind of informed consent document that disclosed the above information about “ex-gay” therapy. As such, we believe Bachmann & Associates to be practicing unethically, even by the standards of the American Association of Christian Counselors. This is particularly disconcerting given the fact that Marcus Bachmann’s clinic has received significant funding from the State of Minnesota and the federal government.
You can read Becker’s first hand account here.