Some may think that too much focus has been given to the Michele/Marcus Bachmann reparative therapy story. However, I believe that the story is extremely important. First, it is a testament of what the Republican Party has become under the influence of the Christianists and Tea Party that someone like Bachmann can even be a semi-serious nomination contender. More importantly, the myth that sexual orientation is a "choice" and the myth that gays can "change" are the lynch pins to the Christianist message in opposition to LGBT equality on all fronts. Once the public at large realizes that being LGBT is an unchangeable and immutable characteristic, Christianist anti-gay efforts begin to crumble and all they have left in their arsenal is unadulterated religious based discrimination.
Moreover, if sexual orientation is immutable, it then falls within constitutional equal protection rulings and analysis. This fact terrifies the Christianists. Michele Goldberg has some powerful statements in the Daily Beast. Here are some of the best that go to the heart of why the Bachmann story needs to go mainstream in serious way:
But reparative therapy is dangerous no matter how good the intentions behind it. It doesn't work, and it exacerbates the self-loathing that leads gays and lesbians to seek it out in the first place. According to the American Psychiatric Association, "The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient." The American Psychological Association condemned reparative therapy in a 1997 resolution, affirming the principle that "psychologists do not make false or deceptive statements concerning...the scientific or clinical basis for...their services."
Bachmann's clinic, which has received $137,000 in Medicaid funds, is subjecting people to psychologically damaging techniques with no scientific basis. Wiertzema's approach [exposed in the Truth Wins Out expose] is not unique there. Indeed, the clinic sells copies of Janet Boynes book Called Out: A Former Lesbian's Discovery of Freedom, which argues, "Homosexuality, like any sin, separates us from God, for He cannot tolerate sin in His presence."
Neither Bachmann nor many of his therapists, it's important to note, have serious psychological training. His Ph.D. comes from the Union Institute, a Cincinnati-based correspondence school; in 2002, it was cited by the Ohio Board of Regents, which said, "Expectations for student scholarship at the doctoral level were not as rigorous as is common for doctoral work." As Politico has reported, he's not licensed with any of the boards that certify mental-health professionals in Minnesota, one of the few states that allows unlicensed people to practice mental-health care. Similarly, Wiertzema's M.A. comes from Argosy University, a for-profit diploma mill.
Why does any of this matter? Bachmann may be dishonest about his practice, but he's not the one running for president. Yet in describing herself as a small-business owner, Michele Bachmann clearly takes partial credit for Bachmann & Associates, and so its activities reflect on her. Besides, she's made it clear that Marcus exerts authority over her, telling one church audience that she bowed to her husband's instructions to study tax law because "the Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands." That means his character and beliefs are more germane to her candidacy than those of other political spouses. He's the head of the woman who wants to be the head of country. He's also a man with dubious qualifications running a clinic whose counseling techniques can ruin lives.