Presidential campaigns are bound to bring about controversy, as media outlets seek bombshell stories that further shed light on candidates' character, habits and likings. In the latest campaign controversy, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann -- a woman who is no stranger to critique -- is facing questions surrounding a clinic she owns with her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann.
Two of the clinic's former patients -- Andrew Ramirez and John Becker -- are accusing Bachmann Counseling & Associates of engaging in a controversial methodology known as "reparative therapy." This form of counseling encourages gay patients to turn to prayer and the Bible to try and rid themselves of same-sex attraction. Some sources claim that Dr. Bachmann has denied that he employs this at the clinic, yet new video purportedly shows this form of treatment being offered just weeks ago:
Back in 2004, after telling his mother and father that he was gay, Ramirez was sent to Bachmann & Associates for counseling and treatment. It was at the clinic that the young man claims he was faced and treated with the controversial reparative therapy. The Nation has more:
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.
The second "patient," Becker, a gay rights activist who lives in Vermont, headed to the clinic last month with a hidden camera. His goal? To pose as a patient who was looking for a "cure" to his same-sex attraction. Then, he planned to expose (which he is now doing) what his counselor advised. Becker, who works for a gay rights organization, posted information about the experience on the group's web site:
I was advised to find a heterosexual “accountability buddy” as I struggled to increase my attraction to women and decrease my attraction to men. I was to confide in, pray with, and be held accountable to this person.
Bachmann & Associates sells a book written by Twin Cities minister and self-proclaimed “ex-lesbian” Janet Boynes. This book chronicles her supposed journey “out of the lesbian lifestyle.” 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.”
Both of these accounts, if true, do show a clinic that utilizes faith in addressing same-sex attraction. Thus, some are claiming that Dr. Bachmann has been dishonest in his claims that the clinic does not utilize reparative therapy. In 2006, he told CityPages.com the following:
"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."
According to 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 City Pages, Bachmann’s presentation ended with testimony from three people who claimed they’d been gay and had been “cured” and become straight.
Below, listen to a controversial radio interview in which Dr. Bachmann is accused of calling homosexuals "barbarians:"
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/UvwP4vHEc-I?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
While it does seem as though Dr. Bachmann is distancing himself from reparative therapy, his statements regarding the clinic -- though being thrust upon by the media -- are relatively benign. Bachmann's practice may very well be fine with patients maintaining their homosexuality. But, if a patient does, indeed, ask to be "cured," perhaps counselors do comply and engage in controversial methods (there is no way to know for sure either way unless Becker releases an unedited version of the videos).
Considering Ramirez's experience, one could easily assume that his parents spoke with the counselor beforehand and asked for reparative treatment (or, at the very least, spiritual guidance). In terms of Becker's undercover operation, he was in control of his statements and may have also asked for the aforementioned treatment. But, these thoughts are merely conjecture. They do not address whether the controversial counseling methods are proper or hold any credence.
Neither Bachmann & Associates nor his wife's political campaign office have commented yet on the controversy, but the presidential candidate does say that she is proud of the clinic's work and of her ability to create jobs there. Following his undercover heist, Becker concludes:
"Based on my experiences at Bachmann & Associates, there can no longer be any doubt that Marcus Bachmann’s state- and federally-funded clinic endorses and practices reparative therapy aimed at changing a gay person’s sexual orientation, despite the fact that such “therapy” is widely discredited by the scientific and medical communities."
As the campaign season progresses, the Bachmanns' opinions on homosexuality will likely become more pronounced. And they may offend some. For example, in June, the presidential candidate was "glittered" by gay rights activists and her husband has been targeted and teased by gay web sites.