Been writing away on my book while current events come and go. One big story which I posted about here is about whether or not reparative therapy is conducted at Michele and Marcus Bachmann’s therapy clinic.
I am writing about same-sex attracted people who marry heterosexually. In addition to clinical experience, I conducted several in depth interviews of men and women in what are termed, “mixed orientation marriages,” and I surveyed over 300 same-sex attracted men and women who are or have been married to someone of the opposite sex.
The survey was not a pre and post examination of therapy or even change efforts. However, many people disclosed change efforts and many of the participants were involved in member ministries of Exodus. I figure if change in orientation happens a lot, I would find it in this group.
That is not what I found. On the whole, the group assessed themselves as more gay in their attractions and fantasies than when they were 18 and when they were married. Most of the people were still married, but it would not be accurate to say that their orientation had changed.
The therapist quoted in the hidden camera report appeared to say that it was possible to change orientation completely. Saying this is not consistent with research and clinical experience, nor is it consistent with the APA’s recent task force report. It is also is not of necessity an indicator that reparative therapy is taking place. Reparative therapy is a subtype of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) which acts on the premise that being gay is the result of poor parenting. Find some way to address the parenting problems and with time and effort, the same-sex attractions fade a lot or a little.
As I have discussed here many times before, there is little evidence for the reparative drive theory and even less that such approaches actually have potency for orientation change.
On the other hand, some (many?) people who are evangelical find ways to maintain commitments to their marriages or to remain chaste to the degree that they feel loyal to their faith. A recent New York Times magazine article provided an in depth look at that approach to situations when religious belief and sexual attractions seem to conflict.
Nuance often goes out the window when a political, especially presidential, campaign is a part of the mix. In this case, that seems to be happening. Given the reporting about the Bachmann’s statements about homosexuality, there seems to be little doubt that they have aligned with the political side of the ex-gay movement. On the other hand, I doubt that Marcus Bachmann and his associates operate like Joe Nicolosi’s Thomas Aquinas Clinic, as a reparative therapy office, subjecting large numbers of patients to fables about how the past and present relate. I suspect the Bachmann’s interest in ex-gays is because the change is possible narrative reinforce their biases about homosexuality in general. Let me add that I am pretty sure I am right about that last statement, although I could be wrong about the one before it.
Politically, the matter is unlikely to hurt Michele Bachmann in Iowa or among rank and file religious conservatives. It may however, help illustrate why she cannot win the nomination. Whatever they are doing at Bachmann and Associates, it is not transparent, nor state of the art. Trust is not inspired by incompetence or a lack of transparency. The Bachmanns will need to face the issues deliberately, spell out their beliefs and let people decide what it means for their support. It may not need to be before the Iowa caucus, but it will be some time after that.