Entries Tagged as '“reparative” therapy'

Steal This Defense of Marcus Bachmann

July 15th, 2011 at 9:21 am 114 Comments

The controversy surrounding the clinic owned by Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, is getting more personal, and conservatives don’t seem to be doing much about it. On his show on Wednesday, Jon Stewart not only mocked Bachmann and her husband for their views on homosexuality, he also suggested that Marcus himself might be repressing his true sexual orientation, something that Jon Stewart deduced from Marcus’s dancing skills vocal intonations:

It’s not only Stewart, Gawker has a round up of celebrities who are questioning Marcus’s orientation. The Second City have released a comedic video showing the strain this puts on the Bachmann’s married life, and one LGBT blogger even suggested that Marcus would be “a fine First Lady if nothing else.”

Despite the damage this could do to Bachmann, conservatives are avoiding the meme and are not attacking liberals or Jon Stewart. The right will defend Bachmann taking money from Medicaid and argue that her old Church calling the Pope the Anti-Christ is not a controversy, but there has been a curious radio silence from the right on the questions about Marcus’s orientation.

Since a discussion about Marcus’s treatment in the media on this issue seems largely absent from the conservative blogosphere, he has had to fend for himself in interviews about his clinic. At the time of this posting, FrumForum was only able to find one blog post at The Blaze which raised concerns over the “The mean-spirited commentary” which this meme was developing. The only other sites which are discussing this and wondering if it might be crossing a line are Slate and Outside the Beltway.

That lack of conservative damage control is strange because this line of questioning could do a lot of damage to Bachmann’s campaign. It’s one thing to have a husband who runs a clinic that “treats” homosexuality. It raises the stakes to suggest that he is running the clinic as a way of dealing with his own repressed urges.

It adds to the impression that social conservatives are homophobic because of their inability to admit their own sexuality.

The silence about Marcus is especially surprising since the conservative movement attacked Jon Stewart for many lesser offenses in the past, (see, Andrew Klavan calling Stewart a bully, or one Breitbart’s bloggers calling Stewart “a left wing hatchet man disguised as a satirist”)

The conservative movement might be choosing to ignore the issue because they think there is no good way to spin this: they had pinned their hopes on Bachmann being able to overcome any social conservative baggage she may have and win the Republicans nomination with her fiscal conservative Tea Party credentials. Now it seems that her husband’s activities look set to drag her back into the religious culture war territory that conservatives would prefer not to campaign on.

While I agree with fellow FrumForum contributor Ron Hill that “reparative” therapy is harmful and that there are serious ethical questions that Marcus Bachmann must answer, the silence of the conservative movement suggests a lack of imagination of ways they can defend Bachmann’s campaign.

Why not say that Marcus might have once been gay but now has put those urges under control through reparative treatment and his clinic is a testament to how he wants others to have the same opportunities he has had? Sure it would appear bizarre to a large segment of the population but perhaps that message would resonate with social conservatives who don’t see what the fuss about Bachmann’s clinic is about. If nothing else, that defense would at least force conservatives who supported Bachmann because of her fiscal issues to wonder exactly what they signed up for when they decided to support her and give her the cover-magazine treatment on both National Review and the Weekly Standard.

Ethical Questions Raised at Mr. Bachmann’s Clinic

July 11th, 2011 at 7:57 am 18 Comments

The Nation revealed this weekend that the Christian counseling centers owned by the husband and chief advisor of GOP Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann have been practicing the widely discredited and potentially harmful “reparative” therapy intended to change people from gay to straight. Marcus Bachmann had previously denied that his clinics engaged in “ex-gay” therapy.

But The Nation missed the real part of the story that raises serious ethical and legal questions about Mr. Bachmann’s practice. Buried in the details in the source material provided by the gay rights organization Truth Wins Out; one finds that at no time did employees of Mr. Bachmann’s clinics ever educate the client on the dangers of reparative therapy (such as suicidal ideation), its historical lack of success in changing sexual orientation, or that the practice has been denounced by mainstream medical and mental health associations. Additionally, the client should have been informed that reparative therapy is considered “experimental”, he should have been told of the availability of other therapy options, and had the risk and benefits of each option explained.

This “informed consent” is required by the ethics code of the American Psychological Association (Mr. Bachman holds a doctoral degree in psychology) and informed consent is also a requirement of the ethics code of the American Association of Christian Counselors. This latter group mandates written informed consents as well as special written consent prior to initiating therapy when the goal is a change in sexual orientation.  The undercover investigator with Truth Wins Out, who videotaped five counseling sessions in Mr. Bachmann’s clinic,  has confirmed that at no time was he given an informed consent either verbally or in writing.

Thus it appears that Ms. Bachmann’s spouse and lead advisor owns a clinic that is practicing unethically in a way that is known to harm patients. This break from traditional evidence-based practice and Mr. Bachmann’s previous insistence that his clinic does not engage in the discredited therapy, raises legitimate questions about the integrity of one of Michele Bachmann’s chief advisors.