Bachmann keeps the ex-gay story alive

Why won’t Michele Bachmann discuss her counseling clinic?
Nearly three weeks after The Nation and Truth Wins Out published separate accounts of sexual orientation change efforts at their Minneapolis-area clinic, Bachmann continues to avoid media questions about the matter. As was demonstrated by her response to questions Sunday at a campaign event in Davenport, IA, her inability to handle the issue has allowed the story to live on.
Late yesterday, WQAD reported that they were snubbed by Bachmann over a prior interview during which a reporter asked about the Bachmann counseling center. Photojournalist Chuck McClurg said he was blocked from filming Bachmann speaking and was told “’due to the interview last week WQAD would not have an interview’” by the Bachmann campaign.
According to McClurg, a reporter from another station then raised questions about the Bachmann’s clinic. At that point, a campaign staffer took the microphone from the candidate, and “tossed it to the reporter,” ending the interview. Despite being promised an interview, Bachmann never emerged from her campaign bus. According to the WQAD report, McClurg said, I’ve been a photojournalist since 1988 and I have logged some 3,000 items. I’ve never been snubbed like I was (here) yesterday.”
Surely, the Bachmann campaign could find something to say about a clinic she once touted as an example of small business creating jobs. Initially, I thought the story might help her with socially conservative Iowa voters. However, now I think the issue serves to expose significant weaknesses in Bachmann as a candidate which the Obama campaign will easily exploit.
Obama will point to her indecision, her lack of transparency, and avoidance of public scrutiny. Never mind that such could also be said for the President. Heavy handed tactics might have worked for the Obama campaign in 2008, but they will alienate GOP voters in 2012. This issue should be a relatively easy one for Bachmann. Bachmann’s stonewalling leave her open to speculation that the clinic is engaged in unprofessional activities or worse. The issue lives on and she has mostly herself to blame for that.

CNN Belief Blog examines congruence paradigm amid Bachmann revelations

On today’s CNN Belief Blog, Dan Gilgoff examines some changes in the evangelical world regarding reparative therapy in light of stories about Bachmann and Associates. Gilgoff contrasts the converstion or change paradigm with what I have called the congruence paradigm.

While many evangelicals once viewed conversion therapy as key way to deal with homosexuality, many of the religious movement’s leaders and organizations have cooled to the practice in recent years, as more science suggests that homosexuality may be innate and as new therapeutic approaches have emerged.
“Evangelicals, in quiet ways, are shifting to this position to where there is just not a lot of support for the change paradigm,” said Warren Throckmorton, an influential voice in the world of Christian counseling, referring to so-called change therapy.

Later in the piece, Exodus’ Alan Chambers weighs in, Al Mohler is referenced as is Marcus Yoars at Charisma and Jonathan Merritt at Christian Science Monitor. I like that the change paradigm is contrasted with the congruence paradigm.
Go give it a read and comment there and here…

New study: Sexual behavior changes but not sexual orientation

Media have been all over the Bachmann clinic story this week with lots of related discussion about how much, if at all, sexual orientation changes. As a part of this discussion, I noted that a study I am writing up found that over all married gay people assess themselves as growing more same-sex attracted over time.
Along the way, colleague Mark Yarhouse wrote to remind me that he found something similar in a study recently reported in the new issue of the Christian journal Edification (check out the entire journal for background on the whole arena of evangelicals in the study of sexual identity).
The study Mark referred to was authored by his team at Regent University and titled, “Characteristics of Mixed Orientation Couples: An Empirical Study” (start reading at page 41). The sexual minority participants had been married an average of just over 16 years and the average age was 45. While it was not a study of efforts to change, one could reasonably assume that if a group had participants who had shifted orientation very much, then this would be the group. However, that is not what they found, at least not at the level of attraction. See Table 5 below:

You will have to click the table to see it more clearly, but the table  demonstrates that the Kinsey scores shift more toward the heterosexual side when the participants were asked about their sexual behavior but when asked about their attractions, fantasies, and emotional attachments, there was no change. The Kinsey Expanded scale included an average of participant Kinsey assessment of behavior, attractions, fantasies and emotional attachments.
The authors summarized the results:

The mean score of the Kinsey behavior scale before marriage was 3.60, which falls in between the Largely heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual and Equal amounts of heterosexual and homosexual categories. The mean score of the Kinsey behavior scale currently was 2.80, which falls in between the Largely heterosexual, but incidental homosexual and Largely heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual categories.
On the Kinsey Expanded version, the mean score for both before marriage and the current assessment were 4.33 and 4.57 respectively. Both of these scores fall in between the
Equal amounts of heterosexual and homosexual and Largely homosexual, but more than incidental heterosexual categories.

I need to ask Mark, and perhaps he can comment, what the Expanded Kinsey result would look like if the behavioral Kinsey score was removed from the average of all Kinsey scores. Perhaps, the attraction, fantasy, etc., scores would rise moderately.
At any rate, the results are consistent with what I am finding as well. People adapt their behavior to their beliefs and commitments but their orientation does not shift, on average.
In all of the bluster about change therapies and clinics, I think evangelicals need to face what evangelical academics are finding in research. Also, a word to the media, both Christian and mainstream, quoting advocacy groups will get you two sides for dramatic tension, but if you want to know how research informs the questions you are asking, please consult those who, despite their religious loyalties, will report accurately.

Marcus Bachmann defends his clinic

Speaking to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Marcus Bachmann defended his clinic, protested that a recording of him was doctored, and defended the option to seek change of orientation.
Bachmann said a 2010 Point of View radio show was edited to make it appear he considered gays to be barbarians. He said he was speaking about teens in general and not gays specifically.
Bachmann also told the Star-Tribune that his clinic does not specialize in change therapy but would pursue it, at “the client’s discretion.”
Bachmann’s clinic has received $137,000 in Medicaid payments but defended this sum as helping low income clients.
I did not think Bachmann was a big player in gay change circles. While I was more involved in that world, I never heard of him or anyone in his clinic. To my knowledge, he has had no involvement at NARTH.
Sounds like his clinic needs an inservice in the SIT Framework.
If the radio program has been edited to create a false impression, then some red faces need to speak up. Someone surely has the original program and should make it available to the public today.
Update: The fellow who posted the audio of Bachmann referring to gay teens as barbarians says he did not doctor the audio and challenged the radio program to release the full podcast.

The fuss over Michele Bachmann and reparative therapy

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.