Air Force Academy doubles-down in defense of “ex-gay” character coach

The Air Force Academy contacted me about our story yesterday breaking the news that they had hired Dr. Mike Rosebush, a supposed-“ex-gay” with twenty years experience “curing homosexuals,” to oversee the “Character and Leadership” coaching program at the academy.

The Academy wanted me to know that Rosebush is not in charge of “counseling” cadets, and does not “counsel” or “evaluate” cadets.  Rather, he’s “only” in charge of “coaching” them on developing good character and leadership skills.  (Rosebush actually developed the entire character and leadership building coaching program the academy uses, called “MOSAIC Personal Coaching.”)

Unfortunately, that explanation falls short of addressing the underlying problem. A man who has devoted the last twenty years of his life to “curing” gay people is now in charge of a mandatory program, that he designed, to help Air Force Academy cadets develop “character” and “leadership.”

Air Force Academy Cadets form up while attempting to break the largest formation collegiate record with a 46-person formation (Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Valente)

Air Force Academy Cadets form up while attempting to break the largest formation collegiate record with a 46-person formation (Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Valente)

Rosebush’s religious right resume

Over the past nearly twenty years, Rosebush has worked as a vice president at Focus on the Family, as the director of the Professional Counselors’ Network at Exodus International, served as a clinical member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), including publishing alongside NARTH’s head, Joseph Nicolosi, and has run his own “cure the gays” counseling program.

That is the entirety of Rosebush’s professional experience stretching back almost two decades before being hired by the Air Force Academy – he worked with gay-hating organizations and used “junk science” in an attempt to “cure” gays of their supposed problem.

A bit of background on Rosebush’s former employers:

Focus on the Family is one of the most rabidly anti-gay, and most powerful, religious right activist organizations in the nation.  Here’s Focus on the Family’s publication CitizenLink quoting Anne Paulk, supposed “ex-gay” (whose “ex-gay” husband was caught in a skeezy gay bar a while back):

“[T]he person with same-sex attraction usually has some pretty specific wounds with their same-sex parent, their peers, their self-identity and their understanding of who the opposite gender is. They usually have some childhood wounding. There is a lot going on and a lot of care is needed.”

Focus on the Family also, in the past, used junk-science to falsely accuse gays of being pedophiles:

A booklet from Focus on the Family charges that “studies indicate that around 35 percent of pedophiles are homosexuals. . . . a child molester is 17 times more likely to be homosexual than heterosexual.”

Exodus International oversaw a large number of “pray away the gay” programs across the US, before Exodus shut down recently and apologized for trying to do something that it finally admitted doesn’t work.

Here are several quotes from Exodus that I took off the Family Research Council’s Web site a few years back. Speaking is Jane Boyer, a former board member of Exodus:

“[I]n areas that are most accepting of homosexuality, such as Hollywood and San Francisco and New York, there is the highest percentage of suicide, death from chemical dependency, drug addiction, alcoholism, and HIV amongst the gay community, and I am concerned about that, because I love the homosexual. Obviously, in those areas that they are receiving the greatest acceptance, there is the highest percentage of death and despair amongst the gay community.”

“[L]esbian love is a counterfeit, it’s a lie, and we are far too easily pleased with a counterfeit. And that is what the gay community — that is the deception, is that when they turn to homosexual behavior, when they turn to these gay relationships, it doesn’t fill. It gives the illusion of being satisfying. But it really doesn’t. It really doesn’t.”

“[W]hen two women come together in this kind of relationship, you are both broken people in a lot of pain, in need to be loved and accepted, a lack of identity, a lack of self-worth.”

NARTH is one of the most virulent anti-gay “cure” organizations in the country, set up years ago as a kind of pseudo-scientific organization to give a false patina of credibility to what is roundly consider “junk science.” Here are several quotes I collected from NARTH’s Web site a few years back:

“Nicolosi describes gay partnerships as bedeviled by cheating, teasing, fights, jealousy, rage, suspicion, envy, restlessness, and disappointment. Nicolosi writes, ‘Homosexual relationships are so characteristically volatile because the homosexual hates what he loves.’ ”

“This is ultimately about the protection of America’s youth from such groups as NAMBLA and militant homosexuals who seek to lower the age of consensual sexual intercourse between homosexual men and young boys to the age of fourteen (as in Hawaii, 1993) or sixteen (as in England, 1994). They have told us, ‘We’re here. We’re Queer. And we are coming after your children.’ How much more do we need to know?”

“[The] homosexual movement. . . . is strikingly similar in the propaganda of both movements: communistic totalism and homosexual totalism…. such an atmosphere is uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.”

Then in recent years, Rosebush ran his own one-man “coaching” business called “Coaching Confidant,” devoted to “curing” gay people, and other “sex addicts,” by phone for $125 an hour.


Rosebush is also an author.  Among other anti-gay tracts, he authored “Sanctifying Coaching: Sexual purity and peace for Christian men with same-sex attractions.  Here’s a little of the blurb for the book on Amazon:

coaching-confidant-air-force-academy-gay-eDr. Rosebush’s Sanctification Coaching provides the groundbreaking methods that helped his clients achieve sexual purity, peace and heterosexual confidence. If you are a Christian tired of being distressed over your same-sex attractions, then Sanctification Coaching was written for you!

Dr. Rosebush is also a contributing author to The Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Tendencies: A Guide to Treatment. Dr. Rosebush has decades of success in counseling Christian men who struggle with same-sex attractions.

Before his nearly two decades working with the religious right on trying to cure gays, Rosebush was in the Air Force and, in addition to flying planes, taught behavior science and went on to get a PhD in counseling psychology.

Focus on the Family on the “lack of character in men dealing with homosexuality”

For nearly 20 years, Rosebush worked for organizations that didn’t think that gays should even be cadets, or serve in the military at all. Yet, now he’s in charge of a program – designed a program – to help Air Force Academy cadets build character and leadership abilities, when it’s doubtful that Focus on the Family, Exodus or NARTH felt that gay American service members had any character at all.

In fact, let’s hear from an article on Focus on the Family’s Web site “Pure Intimacy” about the level of character in “the homosexual”:

The issues I am going to deal with are a lack of character in men dealing with homosexuality and a spirit of control in women dealing with lesbianism. This article will deal with men.

In dealing with a lack of character in men overcoming homosexuality, I want to stress that this is not an issue with everyone who comes to us. In fact, occasionally, men come to us who struggle mightily with homosexuality but have obvious strength of character. I can almost guarantee that they are going to achieve victory.

On the other hand, a lack of character is so common to men from a homosexual background, and the development of character so central to the healing process, I would urge all of you to pay some heed to this article.

The Air Force Academy has a problem

It stretches all credulity to suggest that Rosebush’s professional anti-gay, junk-science experience of the last two decades was somehow ancillary to his being hired by the Air Force Academy, and that his experience in no way influences his work today.

Mike Rosebush's last six jobs, stretching all the way from 1995 to present. ("Focus" means "Focus on the Family."

Mike Rosebush’s last six jobs, stretching all the way from 1995 to present. (“Focus” means “Focus on the Family.”

Who gets hired not based on the last twenty years of their work experience?

Is that the way the Air Force Academy conducts its hiring nowadays, not based on what you’ve done professionally the last two decades – ignoring your last six jobs, mind you – in the exact same field, coaching, that you’re being hired for?

Hey, we don’t care what you did last year – tell us what you did in the 1980s.

You simply don’t hire a man to be chief surgeon, even if he got his medical degree from Harvard, if he spent the last twenty years practicing voodoo. Your most relevant experience when looking for a job is your most recent experience, not what you did when Ronald Reagan was president.

Just to recap: Mike Rosebush, the president of Coaching Confidant, a counseling service geared towards curing gays and other “sex addicts,” who for twenty years worked with gay-hating religious right organizations to “cure” gays of this supposed flaw in their character, is now hired by the Air Force Academy to design and oversee their “coaching” program, and help build the “character” of Air Force cadets, and we’re to believe that the scientifically-baseless coaching work Rosebush did the day before he joined the academy has nothing to do with the coaching work he did the day after.

It’s clear from the email the Air Force Academy sent me that they’d like us to believe that Mike Rosebush was a really qualified guy back before he went off the pseudo-science deep-end twenty years ago.

And that’s great.

Had the Air Force Academy hired Mike Rosebush back in 1994, before he joined with the worst of the worst anti-civil-rights activists in America in his nearly 20-year quest to “cure” an entire class of American citizens of their minority status, no one would have complained.

But it’s not 1994.  It’s nearly 2014.

And Mike Rosebush, who was an Air Force Teacher 20+ years ago, is now Mike Rosebush, anti-gay quack.

Another “ex-gay” – in this case, an ex-“ex-gay” whose a lot more famous than Rosebush, weighed in last night on the controversy in a statement from the American Military Partner Association:

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s premier resource and support network for LGBT military spouses and their families, released the following statements today regarding the employment of Dr. Mike Rosebush by the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Dr. Rosebush has spent a lifetime devoted to advocating the pseudoscience that homosexuality is something that can and should be “cured.” Such a practice is uniformly dismissed as harmful and unscientific by organizations such as the American Psychological Association and other respected medical and social work organizations.”Hiring a man committed to such a destructive pseudoscience in a position devoted to developing character and leadership in cadets is simply unconscionable,” said Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association. “It is extremely disrespectful and offensive to not only the gay and lesbian cadets at the academy, but the thousands of gay and lesbian service members and their families proudly serving our nation.”
As one of the original founders of Exodus, and a close follower of the ‘Ex-gay’ movement for over 30 years, I can personally attest to the great harm done by ‘reparative therapy’ and ‘ex-gay’ programs,” said Michael Bussee, one of the ex-gay reparative therapy survivors and most vocal critics. “They promote junk science, religious prejudice and shame, and have done immeasurable harm to countless LGBT individuals and their families. It is deeply disturbing that a leading U.S. military institution should have anything to do with these unscientific and destructive ‘therapies.'”

Josh Seefried, who until recently was the co-chair of OutServe/SLDN, and who himself went to the Air Force Academy, also weighed in this morning via a comment on his personal Facebook page, which pretty well sums up the problem the Air Force Academy now faces:

A week ago, I approached Dr Michael Rosebush regarding his past exgay therapy, I was shocked and appalled he actually turned me towards resources to evaluate the practice. I’m disappointed someone like this is evaluating programs at the Air Force Academy. Dr Rosebush chose to be a public figure of the exgay/ antigay movement. With his previous public positions, his very presence creates an atmosphere that’s hostile for the workplace.

And hostile for our cadets as well.

(I’m told that in order to actually see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me – so say the experts.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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