Video showing the use of long-discredited “ex-gay” therapy at a Minnesota counseling center owned by Michele and Marcus Bachmann has led to a pledge drive: Republican presidential aspirants are being asked to repudiate reparative therapy.
Since her declaration of candidacy earlier this summer, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has become a focus of LGBT groups who want to make sure voters know her record as a conservative social warrior. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, now issues regular “Better Know Bachmann” reports, part of the group’s “Call It Out” campaign against homophobia and transphobia.
Bachmann, a star with Tea Party voters, opposed the repeal of the policy banning gays from the military and passage of hate crimes reform. She supports both the federal Defense of Marriage Act and constitutional amendments banning same-sex couples from marrying.
In 2004, Bachmann, then a state lawmaker, told a Minnesota radio audience that “the immediate consequence, if gay marriage goes through, is that K-12 little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural and perhaps they should try it.” She also has referred to her step-sister’s lesbianism as “part of Satan.” And a gay state representative in Minnesota said he once found Bachmann praying over his desk.
In 2009, in a floor speech against a bill reforming hate crimes law, Bachmann said people “who are practicing pedophiles would be considered protected under this legislation, but not, I understand, veterans, not, I understand, pregnant women, not, I understand, 85-year-old grandmothers would be protected under this law. But who would be protected? A pedophile, someone who considers themselves gay, someone who considers themselves transgender, someone who considers themselves a cross-dresser? That is who is protected.”
Earlier this summer, video was released of a gay client at a Bachmann and Associates Christian clinic being told that with reparative therapy he could be cured of his homosexuality.
The video resulted from an investigation by Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit organization founded by Wayne Besen that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism.
“Taking a client’s hard-earned money for a ‘cure’ that is not possible is unethical and a form of consumer fraud,” Besen said.
Marcus Bachmann, a therapist, has said his clinics are not anti-gay, but if a client wants to talk about “ex-gay” therapy “certainly we’ll talk about it.”
But Besen said, “Our investigation clearly shows that his clinic has great antipathy towards gay and lesbian people, and his therapists work to convert clients from gay to straight.”
The TWO video from the clinic shows a prominent sales display for “Called Out: A Former Lesbian’s Discovery of Freedom,” by Janet Boynes. In the book, the minister writes that the effects of “living a homosexual lifestyle” are “Hurt. Despair. Frustration. Loneliness. Depression. Restlessness. Shame.”
TWO’s investigation was not the first revelation that the Bachmanns have endorsed ex-gay therapy, which has been discredited by the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association. Michele Bachmann, at a conference seven years ago, said gays suffer “deep emotional wounds,” but she offered the “message of healing that is possible.”
HRC and other LGBT groups now want Bachmann and other candidates for the GOP presidential nomination to pledge to “take a public stand against ‘ex-gay’ therapy and the insidious anti-gay ideology behind it.”
The groups also are encouraging people to sign a petition at www.hrc.org/callitout urging support for the pledge.
As of WiG press time, more than 22,000 people had signed the petition. However, no GOP presidential candidates had taken the pledge.