Now that I've finished my sermon for next week, as well as a few other things, I can catch up on some writing...
Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus have been getting considerable coverage lately regarding their shared views about homosexuality, and his clinic's use of questionable practices to "cure" people of same-sex attraction. At first, Marcus denied that he and his staff were engaging in "ex-gay therapy"; then when someone who went undercover revealed that they were indeed trying to "pray away the gay," Marcus attempted some flimsy damage control by saying they would only engage in such practices "at the client's discretion."
It's also been revealed that Bachmann's clinic, which presents itself as "distinctly Christian" and includes prayer as part of "therapy," was accepting Medicaid and other government funds to pay for the treatment of several clients. This from the husband of a Tea Party favorite who frequently denounces waste of taxpayer money -- and let's not forget how this violates the separation of church and state.
And then there's the question of how Marcus Bachmann got into this business in the first place. He claims to have a doctorate in clinical psychology from Union Graduate School -- except that the only Ph.D. that school offered was in interdisciplinary studies, before it was investigated by the Ohio Board of Regents and subsequently reorganized as The Union Institute and University, which did not offer a doctorate in psychology until 2001. Of course, that doesn't matter too much in Minnesota, one of three states where you don't need a license to practice in mental health services. Sure enough, none of Minnesota's three state boards dealing with mental health have Marcus registered with them.
It's perfectly justifiable to question the anti-gay views of Michele and Marcus, to uncover their lies and hypocrisy over how their clinic is run, and even to question Marcus Bachmann's credentials as a counselor. But what bothers me is how many LGBTQ and liberal/progressive activists pose the question of whether Marcus might be a self-loathing closeted gay man. Listen to his voice! Look at the way he moves! He must be! Right?
Hold on a second, folks. For years, advocates for the LGBTQ community have been pointing out that we shouldn't judge a person's sexual identity by stereotypes -- and now people are basing speculation about this man's orientation on those very same stereotypes. When right-wingers have tried to discredit certain progressive politicians as being gay, we've decried such smear tactics -- and now progressives are trying to do the same thing.
Now I'm all for revealing a person's hypocrisy, but you have to do so with clear evidence. Show me that Marcus has led a double life around his sexuality, and you've got something. But until you do, let the matter rest.
Even if someone had such evidence, I'd be hesitant to just throw it out there. I'm grateful to Virginia Ramey Mollenkott's insights into this topic, and I believe that more advocates for the LGBTQ community should take heed of her proposals. She believes that any person discovered to be hiding their sexual orientation, while acting publicly in a way which did harm to lesbigay people, should first be approached in private and given the chance to come clean. Only after a sincere and compassionate attempt to offer a path of reconciliation should that person's hypocrisy be revealed.
When I started this blog, I took Mollenkott's guidance to heart, as well as the loving spirit behind it. Early on, a rather mean-spirited fellow posted a comment alleging that a particular UU minister was kinky. His "evidence" was ludicrous, and his sole intent was to smear that minister as part of a personal vendetta, so I had no problem with deleting it. Even if he had clear evidence, and more lofty motivations, I still would not have outed a minister who had never done any harm to kinksters like myself.
So I'm not going to join in that part of the chorus. Lambaste him for misleading people, for taking taxpayer money in contradiction to his wife's ideology, and for referring to gay kids as "barbarians" -- but even if you have proof that he is actually gay, go to him first and give him fair warning. Whenever we condemn hypocrisy, let's not become hypocrites ourselves.