Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's husband Marcus is responding to criticism that he made anti-gay comments and runs a clinic that tries to turn gays straight through a discredited practice called "reparative therapy." Bachmann told the Minnesota Star-Tribune's Tony Kennedy that a widely-circulated audio recording in which he calls gay people "barbarians" has been doctored. As for his clinic's practices, he says his counselors do not try to force homosexuals to become heterosexual unless they request it.
In the audio clip in question, Bachmann says, "We need to understand: Barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn't mean that we are supposed to go down that road." But Bachmann insists that the interview, given in 2010 with the Christian talk show Point of View, he also talked about child discipline, implying the recording must have spliced together separate comments. "I was talking in reference to children. Nothing, nothing to do with homosexuality. That's not my mindset. That's not my belief system. That's not the way I would talk," Bachmann said. "I think the strongest myth. ... is the myth that I have ever called a homosexual a barbarian."
Point of View
's archives don't go back to Bachmann's interview, and the show didn't return Kennedy's calls. But Bachmann and his wife are, by accounts of people who've known them in Minnesota Republican politics, "philosophically... 100 percent aligned
." And Michele Bachmann has a history
of making comments that don't seem all that different from the ones her husband claims he never said. In a 2004 speech before the National Education Leadership Conference, the congresswoman said of homosexuality:
It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. Because if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that's why this is so dangerous. ...
The personal enslavement that will occur from individuals who get bound up in this lifestyle of sexual anarchy. That’s what I call it, sexual anarchy, because we know it isn’t freedom, it’s license.
As for video secretly taped by an undercover gay activist pretending to seek reparative therapy at Bachmann's clinic, Bachmann reponded that his counselors would only offer that option if the patient requested it. Speaking of the activist, Gary Becker
, Bachmann said, "This individual came to us under a false pretense... The truth of the matter is he specifically asked for help.'' Bachmann says his clinic would never force a gay person to be straight if he or she didn't want to be converted. Becker paid $74 a session, and in five sessions, a counselor explained that early childhood experiences could have confused him into having gay feelings, and that maybe he felt attracted to men because he had a high voice. Professional groups like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association oppose the therapy.
: Ken Avidor, who posted the "barbarians" audio clip at DumpBachmann.com, tells Daily Intel's Dan Amira
, "Flat out, I didn't doctor a damn thing."
And Amira adds a bit more context:
Avidor does, however, somewhat defend Bachmann against the accusation that he explicitly called gays "barbarians." Avidor says he's listened to "a lot of Marcus Bachmann audio," and he's heard him say before that "children are barbarians, and somehow they have this innate desire to do, I think in his point of view, wild and crazy things, very un-Christian things in his point of view," and these things need to be "civilized out of them." So Bachmann wasn't really calling gay children barbarians, necessarily — he was merely calling homosexuality one of the many barbaric traits children sometimes exhibit. Not much better.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
ereeve at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.