There has been a frenzy of drummed up controversy about Marcus Bachmann, the psychologist husband of a Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). His “scandal?” A counselor in a practice run by Dr. Bachmann offered a client the service he requested.
Why would this be controversial? Was the client engaged in illegal activity? Was the counselor? No, there was nothing illegal – just very, very politically incorrect. You see, the “client” – actually an undercover employee of a homosexual activist organization – asked for help in changing his sexual orientation.
Taking a page from undercover sting operations against liberal organizations such as ACORN and Planned Parenthood, John Becker, of the grossly misnamed homosexual group “Truth Wins Out” (TWO), secretly videotaped five one-hour sessions with a counselor at the Bachmann clinic. But while ACORN and Planned Parenthood showed themselves willing to conceal crimes, all the Bachmann clinic did was offer Becker help toward achieving what he asked for: “I told them that I wanted to be rid of my same-sex attractions, to be rid of my homosexuality.”
The misinformation and bias in the media’s reporting of this story were astounding. Reporters used the sarcastic catchphrases of homosexual activists, like “pray away the gay” or “gay cure,” as though they were objective descriptions of what is more properly called “sexual reorientation” therapy or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE). They described such counseling as resting only on prayer, Bible reading, and “willpower” ignoring the serious therapeutic methods employed. HLN’s Dr. Drew Pinsky at least explained to Anderson Cooper that “some of these treatments are quite legitimate” – but not, in Pinsky’s opinion, to change someone’s sexual orientation.
The general theme was that such therapies don’t work and are harmful. Major professional organizations, which caved in to pro-homosexual ideological pressure in the 1970’s, have been critical of such treatments – but even their statements are more nuanced than most reports indicate. For example, the American Psychological Association’s 2009 report on the topic did not say such therapies have been proven ineffective. Rather, it said, “There are no studies of adequate scientific rigor to conclude whether or not recent SOCE do or do not work [emphasis added] to change a person’s sexual orientation.” The APA also did not say such therapies have been proven harmful, noting only that “sound data on the safety of SOCE are extremely limited.”
In reality, the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has detailed “125 years of clinical and scientific reports documenting that volitional change from homosexuality toward heterosexuality is possible.” To complain of the absence of “adequate scientific rigor” in such reports is a Catch-22, since the APA’s own attempts to discourage such therapy inhibit the very research that is needed. Of course, no responsible reorientation therapist claims that changing one’s sexual orientation is easy or guaranteed (any more than overcoming depression or anxiety is easy, for example). TWO even noted that the counselor they secretly taped admitted this. But homosexual activists do not merely claim change is difficult – they claim it is impossible, and the evidence contradicts them.
Even Dr. Robert Spitzer, one of the psychiatrists who led the 1973 effort to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, confirmed in a study thirty years later that change is possible, noting, “The changes following reparative therapy were not limited to sexual behavior and sexual orientation self-identity [but] … encompassed sexual attraction, arousal, fantasy, yearning … the core aspects of sexual orientation.” Spitzer also found “no evidence of harm” in the 200 subjects he studied, and noted, “Even participants who only made a limited change nevertheless regarded the therapy as extremely beneficial.”
The attack on Dr. Bachmann, while politically motivated to undermine his wife’s presidential campaign, is also part of a larger effort which could end up driving conservative Christians out of the psychology and counseling professions altogether. A counselor at the Centers for Disease Control was fired, and graduate students in Michigan and Georgia have been dismissed from their programs, for refusing to change their personal convictions about homosexual conduct. These individuals did not refuse to counsel homosexuals, nor did they treat them with disrespect. They merely said they could not affirm homosexual conduct, and offered to refer the client to another counselor for help with their homosexual relationships.
Counselors like Dr. Bachmann’s colleague do not (and cannot) force homosexuals to change – they offer reorientation therapy only to those who want to change. But radical homosexual activists not only want to deny help to those homosexuals who seek it, they have no tolerance for Christian professions who offer it. They seek to force them to change their faith-based beliefs, or forfeit their livelihoods.
These self-styled apostles of “tolerance” should try practicing a little themselves.
Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council Action in Washington, D.C.
This article appeared in several Minnesota newspapers on July 20, 2011.