Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann continues to evade questions about whether she thinks reparative therapy can change gay people into being straight and whether federal money is subsidizing this debunked practice at the Minnesota-based clinic she co-owns with her husband.
During an appearance Thursday at a National Press Club luncheon, Bachmann declined to directly address a question submitted by the Washington Blade regarding her views on “ex-gay” therapy — as well as whether Bachmann & Associates, which has been shown to provide it, receives federal funds to do so. Instead, she talked about her marriage and said her husband Marcus Bachmann is not running for the White House.
“I’m extremely proud of my husband,” Michele Bachmann said. “I have tremendous respect and admiration for him, and we’ll celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary this coming September. But I am running for the presidency of the United States. My husband is not running for the presidency, neither are my children, neither is our business, neither is our foster children. And I am more than happy to stand for questions on running for presidency of the United States.”
Pressed by National Press Club President Mark Hamrick, who moderated the question-and-answer session, about whether she believes her personal finances are something that should be examined as she runs for the presidency, Bachmann acknowledged that her life will be scrutinized during the campaign.
“I am running for the presidency of the United States and I have no doubt that every jot and tittle of my life will be fully looked at and inspected prior to November 2012,” Bachmann said.
Marcus Bachmann, a faith-based counselor who operates Bachmann & Associates, was seated next to the podium as Michele Bachmann made her remarks. Two of her children were also present at the luncheon.
In response to another inquiry, Bachmann emphasized the role her faith plays in her decision-making as a public servant and said that would continue if she’s elected president.
“I am a Christian,” Bachmann said. “And as president of the United States, I will pray every day and ask the Lord to give me guidance.”
Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, criticized Bachmann for dodging the question on “ex-gay” therapy and said it demonstrates she’s out of touch with the American people.
“Michele Bachmann’s silence indicates that she knows her beliefs — and the work her husband performs at his clinic — are jarringly out of step with those of everyday Americans,” Sainz said. “Every single leading scientific and medical organization in this country has condemned reparative therapy as quackery. Large majorities of Americans support equality for LGBT Americans and her anti-gay track record is increasingly a problem for her failing campaign.”
According to an HRC poll published Monday and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 24 percent of the American public believes that gays can be converted into being straight through intensive psychological therapy or prayer while 69 percent believe such practices are ineffective. HRC has called on Republican presidential candidates to disavow reparative therapy.
It’s not the first time Bachmann, who represents Minnesota in the U.S. House, has evaded a question about the widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy that has been revealed to take place at Bachmann & Associates. In an interview earlier this month with WQAD, an Iowa ABC news affiliate, Bachmann had a virtually identical response when asked about the practices at her clinic.
“I’m running for the presidency of the United States,” she said. “As I said, again, we’re very proud of our business, and we’re proud of all our job creators in the United States. That’s what people really care about, and that’s what people are talking to me about all across Iowa.”
According to WQAD, the Bachmann campaign later retaliated against the station for asking the question by denying affiliated reporters the opportunity to speak with the Republican presidential candidate even after promising an interview.
Truth Wins Out, an LGBT group dedicated to fighting “ex-gay” conversion therapy, revealed in a report earlier this month that Bachmann & Associates engages in the practice. John Becker, a gay activist with the group, feigned a desire to change his sexual orientation and videotaped reparative therapy sessions at the clinic that aimed to change him into being straight.
Marcus Bachmann, a faith-based counselor, said in a subsequent interview with the Minnesota Star-Tribune that his clinic only offers “ex-gay” therapy “at the client’s discretion.” Despite Marcus Bachmann’s assertion, the clinic has continued to receive criticism because it’s engaging in a discredited practice that could harm LGBT people.
Further, Bachmann & Associates has been shown to be the recipient of federal funds. According to NBC News, the clinic has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling more than $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005. It’s unclear whether these federal and state funds are compensating the clinic for reparative therapy or if this money is reimbursing Bachmann & Associates for other practices.
A brief transcript of the exchange between the moderator and Bachmann follows:
Moderator: A question that has been in the news — and I think so far your husband has been the one to address it — this comes from a local reporter for the Washington Blade who says, “Recent reporting has revealed the clinic you co-own with your husband engages in a kind of therapy that is meant to help people get over their homosexuality. Do you believe that reparative therapy can change gay people into being straight and has any federal funding gone to your clinic for the practice?
Michele Bachmann: Well, I’m extremely proud of my husband. I have tremendous respect and admiration for him, and we’ll celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary this coming September. But I am running for the presidency of the United States. My husband is not running for the presidency, neither are my children, neither is our business, neither is our foster children. And I am more than happy to stand for questions on running for presidency of the United States.
Moderator: So, just to be clear then, you don’t believe that your personal finances are something that should be questioned by the American people?
Bachmann: I am running for the presidency of the United States and I have no doubt that every jot and tittle of my life will be fully looked at and inspected prior to November 2012.
Watch the video of Bachmann’s response to the question here (via Think Progress)