Michael Hamar

Michele Goldberg Takes Down the Bachmanns

Filed By Michael Hamar | July 14, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media, Politics
Tags: APA, chosen family, ex-gay doesn't work, Marcus Bachmann, Michele Bachmann, quacks, reparative therapy, unethical therapy

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.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

I think it is important to end Lesbian and gay reparitive therapy but I'm saddened that Transsexuals and Transgender identified people have been left out of the conversation. Reparitive therapy is still justified in use against transsexual and Transgender people with the hopes of not necessarily turning them into heterosexual versions of their assumed birth sex but instead in the hopes of turning them gay in the belief that somehow for them it's better than them having surgery and becoming sterile.I believe sometime in the future you most likely will be hearing of how this damages TS/TG people and how it contributes to them committing suicide. While having an L or G identity is perfectly normal for an L or a G for a T it is just as bad as trying to force them to live heterosexually as the sex incorrectly placed on them at birth.

No offense intended. When I use the word "gay" I include all within the LGBT term. It's a matter of shorthand if you will and I have no intention of leaving anyone out. In my area of Virginia, believe it or not, if you use "LGBT" they don't even know what you are talking about. In contrast, they understand "gay" and tend to lump all of us in the LGBT community into that word.

I realize what you are saying about in some places most people just use gay community but that points to another problem. What about Transsexuals like me that don't identify as an LGBT T but instead just view ourselves as allies? How does that help to promote the idea that we are men and women just like the men and women in both the LGBT and Straight community? Also how does that promote the idea that we are parts of both the LGBT and Straight community not just the LGBT community? I would at some point love to see some Lesbians and Gays support me as being a non LGBT community woman who happens to be their allie. Talk about making a huge positive statement for men and women who have a similar back round as mine. You would be telling the Straight community that we are a part of them and that some of us are just like them and belong being accepted by them.

I am tired of the idea that if could prove we're born "this way" then all our rights would be guaranteed. It is irrelevent.
People's civil rights are protected for aspects that come from birth and aspects that are chosen. Americans are protected from discrimination based on their race, age and gender. Americans are protected from discrimination based on their religious and political beliefs and marital status (these are chosen).
If a chosen trait does not deserve protection, I get to discriminate against all Republican Christians.
Irrefutable proof that we are born GLBT will not make the bigots say "Oops! We were wrong." They will simply find a new argument.

I am a taxpayer, a voter, an American and a human being. Now get the hell out of my way. I will have my rights.

So let me get this straight, the Bachman's and others believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are choices. Well OK, if we accept this thesis for a moment I would very much appreciate someone answering this question, yes I know I'm not very bright but.... Just exactly and precisely when did these supposedly non gay/lesbian,bi or gender variant folks consciously make their own personal decision to be who they are, to live their truth's openly and honestly similar to myself. Please, can someone help me understand this phenomenon?
?"If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise." Johann von Goethe

Cheryl there is a huge problem in that much of what they use against those of us who are TS and TG comes from within the LGBT and Transsexual communities. How can we point the finger at them but allow those of us who gave them ammo like "Transsexuals are gay men who go to far", or radical lesbians like Janice Raymond who they quote when persecuting Transsexuals free passes? Also some TS women have said some pretty harmful things about Lesbians and Gays. Then there are also those who self identify as TS and TG that insult the genitals of post-ops and refer them back to their supposed birth sex. By no means am I saying that conservatives like Bachman should be given a free pass but those who are LGBT and TS who help them deserve equally if more so a good hard swift kick where the sun don't shine.

Lisa, I agree with you. Sadly, there are those right here in my own area of Virginia who seem far happier when attack others in our community rather than recognizing that we are (or should) allies and the need for ALL of us to work together. It drives me CRAZY! I don't get it - especially when it gives ammunition to our common enemies.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 15, 2011 5:27 PM

I agree in principle with the thought that even if being gay or lesbian is a "choice", it ought not to matter because one's religion is a choice, too, but it's protected. At the same time, however, we need to recognize that the concept of religious liberty stems from a somewhat different set of concepts and history that differs a bit from the question as to what behaviors should be illegal and which ones ought not to be.

In an event, the task for us is much easier if the whole phenomenon is much more nature than nurture. The minute terms like "choice" get wedded to behavior, then the question as to whether the behavior has some kind of negative societal impact, and hence can be rationally prohibited or regulated becomes paramoount. When the behavior is wed to something viewed as an immutable characteristic, the standard for prohibiting it becomes much more difficult to justify.

My personal experience with orientation is that it is neither immutable nor a choice. When I began my transition, even before I began hormone therapy, my orientation changed from that of a straight man, to that of a straight woman. When I started experiencing this, I was concerned that perhaps it gave reparative therapists ammunition. But when I thought about it some more, I realized that it didn't. I didn't choose to all of a sudden be attracted to men; it just happened. One day, for the first time, I felt giddy about a male. I've no idea where it came from. Scared the bejeezus out of me, actually! :)

Anyway, my experience is that it's not immutable. But it also isn't a choice.

I'd just like to make a certain comment regarding the concept of "immutability".

Immutability in this case is meant to convey the understanding that it exists and cannot be stripped from a being -- not that it does not change -- indeed, it often can changed based on context and information.

For example, my paternal grandmother, dark skinned, African, is not, according to some people "african american". Because she came from the heavily colonized area of northern africa -- and, since they do not know her, they might think of her in terms of moors or other sorts, and not as part of the more southerly groups.

So my race, an immutable characteristic, can change based on the context and understanding of my background.

Furthermore, it should be noted that bisexuality is not a perfectly cloven in two balance twixt one or the other, and it is the bisexual experience that informs this debate, in the end. That doesn't mean that being bisexual changes, merely that the context and circumstance changes around it.

So it can be both immutable and changing, at the same time.

That's not what immutability means, though. If one wants to use a word to describe something which can change, don't use the word immutable. For kicks, I looked the word up, and the definition is about as simple as it gets... "not mutable; unchangeable; changeless."

May I kindly suggest that we use a word which doesn't take 100-odd words and an example to explain, and has the added bonus of being correct. The concept you are describing is not the concept of "immutability," but "inherent."

Something can be inherent and changing. But not immutable and changing.