Two reports were published claiming that Bachmann & Associates, the Christian counseling clinic owned by Rep. Michele Bachmann’s husband, practices “reparative therapy,” or psychological treatment targeted at reorienting homosexuals.
The claim isn’t new — in fact, Marcus Bachmann has refuted it in the media for years. In 2006, he told City Pages that his clinic didn’t use the controversial therapy.
“Am I aware that the perception is out there? I can’t comment on that,” Bachmann said. “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.”
Mother Jones pointed out that this is more than just a problem as a political spouse: Michele Bachmann lists the business among her financial assets, and when she boasts about starting and owning a business on the campaign trail, she’s talking about the clinic. The clinic that has suddenly become a much larger liability in her 2012 presidential campaign.
The reports, however, tell otherwise. Though Bachmann himself may not personally administer the anti-gay therapy, not all members of his practice can claim the same.
John Becker, an activist with pro-gay group Truth Wins Out, conducted a hidden-camera infiltration of the practice. Happily married to his husband for more than five years, Becker and TWO decided to call the clinic posing as a man looking for reformation in late June. He was referred to Timothy Wiertzema, a counselor at the clinic, flew to Minnesota, and began therapy.
At the start of our second session I went straight to the point: what could I do? Would I 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.
Becker was never told of the risks of the treatment, he said. “I was never told that every professional medical and mental health association rejects ‘ex-gay’ therapy including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Counseling Association, 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.”
Because these facts were not disclosed, nor was an informed consent release offered or signed, Becker said that the clinic is practicing unethically, even by the standards of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
“He basically said being gay was not an acceptable lifestyle in God’s eyes,” Ramirez remembers of his therapist. He was told to read the Bible and pray, and the therapist tried to set him up with an ex-lesbian “mentor.”
Ramirez defied his stepfather and quit therapy after his second session.
Both Bachmann & Associates and the Bachmann campaign declined to comment to The Nation. Raw Story’s request for comment has not yet been answered.
Though there has been no evidence of Bachmann himself practicing the reparative therapy, Becker reported that a book by an “ex-lesbian” named Janet Boynes, about her own degayification, is displayed in the Lake Elmo, MN practice’s lobby.
“Next to the stack of books was a prominently-displayed, typewritten note that read, ‘Janet is a friend. I recommend this book as she speaks to the heart of the matter and gives practical insights of truth to set people free. – Marcus Bachmann, PhD.’” Becker reported.
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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