Clinic Owned by Michele and Marcus Bachmann Offers “Ex-Gay” TherapyPosted: July 10, 2011
For some time, there have been rumors that Bachmann & Associates, a psychological counseling business with two locations in Minnesota offers reparative therapy, often referred to as “ex-gay therapy.” The business is owned owned jointly by GOP presidential candidate Michele and her husband Marcus Bachmann, according to Michele Bachmann’s financial disclosure forms.
The Bachmanns have repeatedly denied that their “clinic” uses this discredited treatment in order to attempt to “cure” clients’ homosexuality. And in fact, the treatment is not listed on the clinic’s website. We now have solid evidence that they are lying.
Two articles were posted on Friday at the Truth Wins Out (TWO) website, one a report of an undercover investigation by John M. Becker and the other by Wayne Besen explaining why the group undertook the investigation and why they have “concluded that That Marcus Bachmann’s Clinic Engages in ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy.” According to the website, TWO is a “nonprofit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism.“
There has been an ongoing discussion as to whether the clinic of Marcus Bachmann, the husband of presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), practices “reparative therapy,” the discredited technique that aims to turn gay people into heterosexuals. When asked, Marcus Bachmann said that his clinic did not take part in such therapy. According to a June 15th article in The Daily Beast:
In November 2005, Marcus Bachmann delivered a presentation called “The Truth About the Homosexual Agenda” at the Minnesota Pastors’ Summit. According to a gay activist who attended and spoke to the City Pages, Bachmann’s presentation ended with testimony from three people who claimed they’d been gay and had been “cured” and become straight. “If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that,” he told the newspaper. “But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay a homosexual, I don’t have a problem with that.”
During a week-long Truth Wins Out undercover investigation inside Bachmann & Associates, Truth Wins Out discovered that the clinic actually does practice textbook “reparative therapy.” With two hidden cameras in tow, TWO’s Director of Communications and Development, John Becker, attended five private sessions with Bachmann & Associates counselor Timothy Wiertzema, MA LMFT.
John M. Becker, the young man who went undercover with hidden cameras to investigate whether Bachmann & Associates is offering reparative therapy despite their denials, reported on his experiences in a second article. He scheduled an appointment with a counselor, explaining that he was “struggling with [his] homosexuality.”
Preparing for my first visit was a surreal experience. I couldn’t pay by check since my checks had my name, my husband’s name, and a Vermont address. This meant I would be paying with cash and opening my wallet before each appointment, so I realized I’d have to go through my wallet and remove or hide anything that would invite suspicion. My Human Rights Campaign credit card had to go, lest anyone recognize that organization’s ubiquitous logo. I left our ACLU membership card behind as well. I also hid my out-of-state debit card and library card, and took the photo of Michael and me out of my wallet along with the copy of our marriage certificate that I always keep close. Despite the hot and humid Minnesota weather, I wore long pants to conceal a tattoo on my ankle of a pink triangle, the badge of gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and a symbol of the struggle for LGBT equality. At the last minute, in the parking lot, I remembered that Michael’s picture was set as the background image on my phone, so I hurriedly changed it. Finally, I took a deep breath and slipped off my wedding ring, placing it in a plastic bag inside my satchel, right next to one of the hidden cameras. My identity as a proud, openly gay, happily married LGBT rights activist was totally erased. I was ready
Once inside, Becker explained why he was seeking help.
When asked why I came in for counseling, I said that I had been struggling with homosexuality for a long time and tried a lot of things, up to and including suicide, to make it go away – exactly how my 16-year-old self would have responded. I said that I was upset: this struggle has lasted for so long that I started to wonder if I was doing it right and decided to seek outside help. All of my sexual experiences, from age 14 onward, had been with men. What I wanted, though, was to get rid of my homosexuality and eventually marry a woman.
At the second session Becker asked the counselor if he would
ever be able to be completely rid of homosexuality, or merely learn to cope with and manage it? Wiertzema’s response was that it’s situational. Some people have been able to get rid of it completely over a long time period, others over a shorter time period. Still others are able to get it to “subside,” down to a “manageable” level, but it’s still there in the background. He asked me, “Are you okay with knowing that it might take awhile, and that it might not… maybe not happen at all? …Obviously, it’s not okay, in a way, but…” I said that I wanted to give it a go, that it was better to try than to not try.
In subsequent meetings with the therapist, Becker was told that people can overcome their homosexual urges and no longer be attracted to the same sex and that
“We’re all heterosexuals, but we have different challenges.” Attraction to the same sex “is there, and it’s real, but at the core value, in terms of how God created us, we’re all heterosexual.”
All of this despite the fact that
every professional medical and mental health association rejects “ex-gay” therapy…or that the treatment I was seeking was totally unsupported by research. I was never informed about possible alternative treatment options such as gay-affirmative therapy. Nobody ever told me about the potential for harmful side effects like depression and suicidal thoughts. And although I was asked to sign a treatment plan outlining my problem, desired outcome, and treatment strategy, I was never given nor asked to sign any kind of informed consent document that disclosed the above information about “ex-gay” therapy.
Becker asked about churches that would be supportive of his struggle, and was referred to churches that welcome ex-gays, including the Outpost Ministries, which, according to its website,
exists to help the sexually and relationally broken find healing and restoration through relationship with Jesus Christ….Outpost was formed over 30 years ago to meet the needs of men and women making the decision to break away from gay life. We strive to deal with individuals as whole persons, not merely sexual beings. We offer teaching, encouragement and support to individuals, families and the Church. Outpost emphasizes obedience to God’s Word, which begins the healing process. As we grow in our submission to Jesus Christ, we also grow in friendship with Him. It is in relationship with Jesus that we are healed and transformed.
Another article by Maria Blake at The Nation provides support for Becker’s story and the conclusion that Bachmann & Associates offers reparative or “ex-gay” therapy. Blake relates the story of Andrew Ramirez, who came out to his parents during his senior year in high school.
His mother took the news in stride, but his stepfather, a conservative Christian, was outraged. “He said it was wrong, an abomination, that it was something he would not tolerate in his house,” Ramirez recalls. A few weeks later, his parents marched him into the office of Bachmann & Associates, a Christian counseling center in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, which is owned by Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus. From the outset, Ramirez says, his therapist—one of roughly twenty employed at the Lake Elmo clinic—made it clear that renouncing his sexual orientation was the only moral choice. “He basically said being gay was not an acceptable lifestyle in God’s eyes,” Ramirez recalls. According to Ramirez, his therapist then set about trying to “cure” him. Among other things, he urged Ramirez to pray and read the Bible, particularly verses that cast homosexuality as an abomination, and referred him to a local church for people who had given up the “gay lifestyle.” He even offered to set Ramirez up with an ex-lesbian mentor.
So there you have it. Michele and Marcus Bachmann are receiving Federal and state taxpayer funds to offer a discredited and unethical therapy without even informing clients of the dangers or that no major medical or psychological organization approves of this approach.