Michele and Marcus Bachmann pledging allegiance in Waterloo, Iowa
Steve Pope, Getty Images
"Pray the gay away," as ABC News put it. It seems to be that simple for Marcus Bachmann, PhD, husband of Michele, the woman sitting in the Iowa caucus catbird seat. And he does it using commingled state and federal Medicaid funds—over $161,000 worth according to msnbc—at Bachmann and Associates, the so-called Christian counseling center located in the Minneapolis suburbs of Lake Elmo and Burnsville. The clinic is jointly owned by Marcus and Michele. So what does it matter?
For starters, there is the small matter of big-time hypocrisy on how to spend big bucks wrested from taxpayers to fund bogus treatment modalities. Note to file: you don’t “cure” homosexuality by prayer or reparative therapy. The use of prayer to a specific end has no place in clinical psychological treatment. Here’s the deal in a nutshell: Bachmann and Associates conflates pastoral counseling with psychological counseling. And however so-called Christian psychological practice is conceived, you can’t charge Medicaid for a cure-by-prayer or reparative therapy. For years, Marcus has denied that his practice attempts to cure homosexuality through reparative therapy—reorienting behavior by thought control of one variety or another, because he knows the practice is not accepted by the American Psychological Association, or any other association having anything to do with the human psyche.
That he did engage in the practice was pretty much an open secret since a Minneapolis City Pages article by G.R. Anderson Jr.that appeared on October 4, 2006. The article quoted witness Curt Prins, a gay 35-year-old marketing executive who attended a Marcus Bachmann presentation entitled "The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda." At the conclusion of the session Bachmann trotted out three individuals who had “renounced” homosexuality; in other words, they had been “cured” through the efforts of Bachmann and Associates. Said one, “If I was born gay, then I'll have to be born again.”
The lid came off Mr. Bachmann’s I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-therapy tightrope walk with the Friday publication of article in The Nation highlighting the hidden-camera sting on B&A conducted by the organization Truth Wins Out. The piece clearly demonstrated how the pray away the gay approach is used in the Bachmann practice. Each session, for starters, began and ended with a prayer. And, according to Truth Wins Out, the therapist explicitly promised “that sexual conversion could occur as a result of prayer and therapy at the clinic.” The material hit ABC News on Monday in a Brian Ross investigative piece based on the sting that further raised the profile of the questions it raised.
John Becker, Director of Communications and Development for Truth Wins Out stated categorically to ABC’s Brian Ross that the Bachmann and Associates therapist promised the unpromisable. “He could cure your homosexuality?” asked Ross. “Yes,” replied Becker, referring the representations made by the therapist. So Truth Wins Out concluded in in a July 8th blog that Bachmann actually does practice textbook “reparative therapy.” [Italics theirs.]
In that well-reasoned piece by Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out presented six indicators that supported their conclusion. To what degree did religion rear its head? Therapist [I use the term advisedly] Timothy Wiertzema, MA, MFT, actually said, “God designed our eyes to be attracted to the woman’s body, to be attracted to everything, to be attracted to her breasts.” A boob man’s cure for sure.
Barbarians Need to be Educated
Marcus Bachmann seems to believe he can hide in plain sight, denying engaging in any controversial psychological practices despite his statements on the record that many would characterize as virulently anti-gay. On the Point of View Radio Talk Show on May 12, 2010, he 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…
And let’s face it: what is our culture, what is our public education system doing today? They are giving full, wide-open doors to children, not only giving encouragement to think it but to encourage action steps. That’s why when we understand what truly is the percentage of homosexuals in this country, it is small. But by these open doors, I can see and we are experiencing, that it is starting to increase.
The importance of all of this is that it offers a glimpse of life under a Bachmann regime. Federal money is hijacked for wacko therapies (that have been linked to the potential for suicidal outcomes). Distinctions between a purely subjective pastoral counseling are conflated with actual psychological interventions. Ideology invades clinical practice. But hey, it’s only a nightmare if they choose to act that way.
Marcus Bachmann writes in a sign on the wall of his clinic that the book “Called Out: A Former Lesbian’s Discovery of Freedom” by professional reformed lesbian Janet Boynes contains “the truth to set people free.” That truth, as Bachmann sees it, is in her words, “living proof that there is hope through Jesus Christ.” And yes, she is talking about “the cure.”
Yup. Your tax dollars at work: living proof.
Candidates should never be evaluated merely on the basis of who their spouses are. But this case is different. Michele Bachmann co-owns that clinic. For years it put the food on her table—that is, the food that didn’t come from federal farm subsidies or money from the foster care system. It bankrolled her launch into politics as the stable family income. And she walks the walk and talks the talk of a true anti-gay zealot.
Here’s a sample:
It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children. Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety per cent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality.” -- On “Prophetic Views Behind The News”, KKMS 980-AM, March 6, 2004.
Mr. (and Mrs.) Bachmann has been collecting Medicaid money under the shared-payment Minnesota system for at least six years. Maybe now, on the eve of the Ames, Iowa straw poll that symbolically kicks off the Republican caucus race there, we might pay attention to that little fishbowl, and this Big Fish of the Republican Tea Party insurgency for whom things are going so swimmingly at the moment. I have said this before: Michele Bachmann is not a joke. She is a threat. She is standing on or very center stage in the slow-summer media months and she has a plan to make life exceedingly miserable for gays in every American family, including her own. (A close family member has been in a committed gay relationship for years.) She thinks she possesses a clinically defensible basis for her religiously-induced homophobia and she knows how to get the government to pay for it.
In the broadest terms, it all points toward some weird, ersatz theocratic impulse. Think that’s an overstatement? According to Thinkprogress.org, Bachmann tried to pass a state law protecting these so-called Ex-Gay Therapists way back in 2006, “a year before the American Psychological Association began investigating ex-gay therapy.” I wonder who tipped her off. You should pay just a little attention to her before you hit the remote—and in that moment ask yourself… “What if?”
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“Don’t misunderstand. I am not here bashing people who are homosexuals, who are lesbians, who are bisexual, who are transgender. We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.” — Minnesota State Senator Michele Bachmann, speaking at EdWatch National Education Conference, November 6, 2004.