Two witnesses said over the weekend that a counseling clinic founded by Michele and Marcus Bachmann performs a controversial “ex-gay” therapy. A former client of Bachmann’s clinic told The Nation that he was counseled to become straight when he was in high school. And the group Truth Wins Out sent a staffer undercover and was treated for his homosexuality. Bachmann’s clinic has taken in thousands in state and federal money despite its overt Christian conservative message.
Andrew Ramirez was sent to Bachmann & Associates after he told his parents he was gay. A high school senior at the time, he told The Nation that an employee of Bachmann’s told him that his only choice was to renounce homosexuality.
“He basically said being gay was not an acceptable lifestyle in God’s eyes,” Ramirez recalled in the interview.
Bachmann & Associates also referred Ramirez to a church for “ex-gays” and offered to connect him with an “ex-lesbian” mentor, he said.
That was in 2004 when, as a state senator, Michele Bachmann was ramping up efforts to amend the Minnesota Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. And she made it clear how she felt about the LGBT community.
“This is a very serious matter, because it is our children who are the prize for this community, they are specifically targeting our children,” she told Christian radio station KKMS 980-AM in March of that year. “This is an earthquake issue. This will change our state forever. Because 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.”
At a November 2004 conference of EdWatch, she said of homosexuality, “It’s part of Satan I think to say that this is ‘gay.’ It’s anything but gay. If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.”
And then she called being gay or lesbian a mental disorder. “Don’t misunderstand. I am not here bashing people who are homosexuals, who are lesbians, who are bisexual, who are transgender. We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders.”
While that was 2004, according to an undercover report by the LGBT equality group Truth Wins Out, the clinic is still doing the same kind of therapy. John Becker of TWO spent a week in late-June undergoing the therapy.
“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,” wrote Becker in a report of his findings. “It’s time for Michele and Marcus Bachmann to stop denying, dodging and stonewalling. They owe it to all Americans to provide a full and honest explanation for their embrace of these dangerous and fraudulent practices.”
Like Ramirez, Becker was referred to an “ex-gay” ministry and told that God wants all gays and lesbians to be heterosexual.
Becker’s therapist, Timothy Wiertzema, told him, “We’re all heterosexuals, but we have different challenges.”
Attraction to the same sex “is there, and it’s real, but at the core value, in terms of how God created us, we’re all heterosexual,” Wiertzema added.
Bachmann & Associates also sells a book by self-described ex-lesbian Janet Boynes, titled, “Called Out: A Former Lesbian’s Discovery of Freedom.” Becker noted that the book was displayed in the clinic along with a note from Marcus Bachmann: “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.”
Most major medical association have condemned “ex-gay” therapy, and some even warn that it could cause harm to patients and clients.
Bachmann’s clinic, which is steeped in conservative Christianity, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal funding over the last several years. The clinic has taken $137,000 in Medicaid funds and another $30,000 in state funds.