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The Bachmanns and the mythology of ‘praying the gay away’

The Bachmanns and the mythology of ‘praying the gay away’

Todd Essig wonders whether presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus – frontliners in the so-called culture wars – are in fact waging a fair battle against homosexuality with their gay-to-straight methodology.

Looking more deeply, as one can when claims are data-based, here’s what the American Psychological Association has to say on the subject.

Can therapy change sexual orientation?

No; even though most homosexuals live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may seek to change their sexual orientation through therapy, often coerced by family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable. However, not all gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who seek assistance from a mental health professional want to change their sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people may seek psychological help with the coming out process or for strategies to deal with prejudice, but most go into therapy for the same reasons and life issues that bring straight people to mental health professionals.

What about so-called “conversion therapies”?

Some therapists who undertake so-called conversion therapy report that they have been able to change their clients’ sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Close scrutiny of these reports, however show several factors that cast doubt on their claims. For example, many of these claims come from organizations with an ideological perspective that condemns homosexuality. Furthermore, their claims are poorly documented; for example, treatment outcome is not followed and reported over time, as would be the standard to test the validity of any mental health intervention.

The American Psychological Association is concerned about such therapies and their potential harm to patients. In 1997, the Association’s Council of Representatives passed a resolution reaffirming psychology’s opposition to homophobia in treatment and spelling out a client’s right to unbiased treatment and self-determination. Any person who enters into therapy to deal with issues of sexual orientation has a right to expect that such therapy will take place in a professionally neutral environment, without any social bias….

The scientific/professional point of view seems pretty clear. Here’s how the religious right has responded as reported by The Minnesota Independent. Notice both the pseudo-science of calling that which has been discredited and disproven something controversial and successful and then undermining critics by saying they reflect anti-Christian bias:

Several religious right groups — including those listed as anti-gay hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center — rushed to Michele Bachmann’s defense following reports that she and her husband Marcus’ Christian counseling clinic performs therapy intended to cure homosexuality. The groups argued that the controversial therapy is successful and that media reports of the practices of Bachmann’s clinic amount to anti-Christian bias. [emphasis added, TE]

via Religious right rushes to Bachmann’s defense following ‘ex-gay’ reports | Minnesota Independent: News. Politics. Media..

(Surely the Anglicans are not ahead of the rest of the world in this matter. Even as the APA discredited reparative therapy, it was used as a defense in the anti-gay section of the House of Bishops’ super-secret theology report committee.)

Bachmann & Associates, Inc., a “Christian” counseling center, grabbed the spotlight this week when a Truth Wins Out sting participant (a videographer undercover as a patient) showed the practice participating in “reparative therapy.”

Seven years ago (well before Marcus Bachmann called gays barbarians), in a National Education Conference speech, Bachmann laid it on the line:

“Any of you who have members of your family that are in the lifestyle—we have a member of our family that is. This is not funny. It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay. “

“It’s profoundly sad to recognize that almost all, if not all, individuals who have gone into the lifestyle have been abused at one time in their life, either by a male or by a female. There’s been profound hurt and profound things that have happened in almost all of their lives.”

“This new legal enforcement of a new status—homosexuality, lesbianism, bringing it into the mainstream, if you will, giving it a legitimacy if you will, that will impact not only the gay community, but every man, woman and child, particularly the schools. Because the first thing that will occur, once the legalization occurs, is that if this curriculum is not being taught already, it will be mandated, it must be taught in the schools. You cannot get out of it. Why? If you would not teach this, it would be considered discriminatory.”

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A good overview of some of the biological data about homosexuality in this recent op ed by Dean Hamer.

--Susan Forsburg

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