Groups Demand Air Force Academy Fire “Ex-Gay Cure Advocate” Mike Rosebush

As reported at the Air Force Times, groups have called on the US Air Force Academy to fire Dr. Mike Rosebush, a member of its Center for Character and Leadership Development, for his

extensive history of work with organizations that seek to change gays’ and lesbians’ sexual orientations.

Dr. Rosebush is a 1975 graduate of the Air Force Academy — one year senior to General Mark Welsh, current Air Force Chief of Staff.  Dr. Rosebush was a fighter pilot and retired in 1995 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

John Aravosis of the homosexual advocacy AmericaBlog and Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out led the charge, with Truth Wins Out saying Rosebush was an “ex-gay charlatan.”

The Air Force Academy initially provided only a short response saying they are “committed to human dignity:” 

Academy spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal said Rosebush declined a request for an interview, but said that Rosebush wanted to express how honored he is to work at the academy and said Rosebush stressed that “we at USAFA are committed to respecting the human dignity of everyone.”

The USAFA statement went on in an apparent effort to diffuse any further objections, seeming to imply that even if Dr. Rosebush has faults, concerns are unwarranted because he does not interact with cadets:

The academy said Rosebush “does not and will not evaluate or counsel cadets,” and “has had no interaction with cadets at any time since he was hired in 2009.” Rosebush last interacted with cadets during his previous employment at the academy, which went from 1988 to 1992. During that period, Rosebush worked in the academy’s directorate of education and taught a course on marriage and family and a behavioral science core leadership course…

The Academy also noted Dr. Rosebush had won an “outstanding instructor award” and “was named the Cadet Wing “civilian of the year” by the commandant of cadets in 2011.”  A subsequent statement to the Rachel Maddow show provided a substantial background on Dr. Rosebush’s role at USAFA.

AmericaBlogs attempted to head off any accusations of religious discrimination:

lest anyone attempt to claim that this is an issue of Rosebush’s religion, Rosebush does not hold a religious job at the academy…

While interesting, one can experience religious discrimination whether one holds a “religious job” or not.  They continued:

…and our complaint is with his professional qualifications.  How does a man end up running counseling programs at the Air Force Academy when his main counseling experience is in anti-gay pseudo-science…?

That might have been a legitimate question had it been raised honestly.  Cursory research reveals Dr. Rosebush may have substantial academic credentials in areas of interest to the Academy.  For example, he published several works cited by USAFA:

  • Rosebush, Michael A. “Does the United States Air Force Academy’s Training Philosophy Really Work?” Proceedings, Psychology in the Department of Defense: Thirteenth Annual Symposium, 15-17 April 1992. Ed. Anthony J. Aretz. Colorado Springs, CO: Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, United States Air Force Academy, 1992.
  • Rosebush, Michael A. “A Behavioral Observation Scale for the Academy Training Philosophy.” Proceedings, Psychology in the Department of Defense, Twelfth Symposium, 18-20 April 1990. Ed. Dana H. Lindsley. Colorado Springs, CO: Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, United States Air Force Academy, 1990.
  • United States Air Force Academy., and Michael A. Rosebush. Leadership Development Manual. USAFA, CO: United States Air Force Academy, 1992.
  • Rosebush, Michael A. Applying the Academy Training Philosophy. Colorado Springs, CO: U.S. Air Force Academy, 1985.

Each of those works appears to be a study on the US Air Force Academy leadership training paradigm, and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with homosexuality.  Further, Dr. Rosebush conducted a fascinating research study (PDF) on character at USAFA — a study that included a substantial section on “respect for human dignity” — which, again, had nothing to do with sexuality.  The USAFA press release noted above specifically said Dr. Rosebush was

hired for his background in leadership development and analytical skills.

which those accolades clearly convey.  Judging by some relevant publications, Dr. Rosebush seems to have some qualifications for his role, irrespective of any other employment he may have enjoyed.

While there is a concerted effort to avoid making this a “religious issue” — which may reveal the concern the advocates have for that defense —  several organizations have focused substantially on beliefs.

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out said Dr. Rosebush needed to be removed until he repented of his beliefs:

Pro-LGBT organization Truth Wins Out called on the Air Force Academy to remove Rosebush from his executive position unless he proves he no longer believes in the scientifically discredited and harmful therapy he’s spent his professional career advancing…

Not to be outdone, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — a self-described “religious freedom” advocate — joined the fight late, firing off a letter to Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning (himself a homosexual) demanding that Dr. Rosebush be terminated for his views on homosexuality.  In chronological order, Weinstein said Dr. Rosebush

  • is a notorious anti-gay bigot
  • is a fundamentalist Christian
  • is a notorious homophobe
  • devoted his entire professional career to bullying and harassing the LGBTQ community
  • practiced quackery
  • is a casehardened proponent of old-school horrific bigotry and putrescent prejudice
  • is a menace to good order, morale, and discipline.

The ridiculous nature of these attacks is fairly obvious.  Dr. Rosebush has done nothing that violates any law, policy, or regulation.  At worst, he has advocated a point of view with which his opponents disagree.

There is another ominous, though not very likely, possibility.  Should the Air Force choose to fire Dr. Rosebush, or even decline to defend him, what message will that send to the thousands of Airmen who share his moral and religious values?

Without a hint of irony, Aravosis opined

In a post-DADT world, the Air Force Academy is sending a troubling message to young cadets when it hires a counselor who is an expert in the “fact” that an entire class of cadets suffers from an “addiction,” and is in need of a “cure.”

Aravosis fails to consider the possibility that, in a post-DADT world, the Air Force Academy could send a troubling message to young cadets if it chooses to prohibit from service any person who holds beliefs about homosexuality that are less than affirming.

One of the defining defenses of the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was that no one would be required to change his beliefs.

Will that defense stand?

Also at the Stars and Stripes.



  • My concern is not with this quack’s beliefs, but that he is a quack. Anyone who believes in reparative therapy, which has repeatedly been condemned by every reputable professional society in the field of psychology, as both ineffective and dangerous–sometimes leading to suicide, is unqualified to hold the position he holds. It is like hiring someone who believes in creationism to teach evolution. He can believe in whatever he wants to believe, but he is not qualified to hold his professional position.

    • You have stated your opinion, to which you are entitled, but it is nothing more than that. There is no law, policy, or regulation in question. To assert that someone should be fired because of your opinion is asinine.

      He can believe in whatever he wants to believe, but he is not qualified to hold his professional position…

      You contradict yourself. If he cannot hold a government position based on his beliefs, then he cannot “believe in whatever he wants…” equally with every other American citizen. You conflate beliefs with qualification.

  • Very unfortunate to see this kind of agenda at work.

  • After reading so many hateful comments and misinformed statements over the last week, I was delighted to see this opinion piece. It provided accurate and balanced information.
    Thank you for this well written article.

  • If someone had participated in activities denying the Holocaust would he be a candidate for ANY position at USAFA? How about a former leader of a KKK group? Is there ANY previous activity that would disqualify an individual from Dr. Rosebush’s position? If Mikey Weinstein had written some papers on leadership and training at USAFA, would that qualify him to serve at USAFA? As much as I’d like to defend a fellow Grad, I can’t do it in this case!
    Best Regards anfd Merry Christmas!

    • @Mark

      Your counterexamples aren’t really germane, but you’re headed in the right direction. More to the point, can a government institution screen potential employees based on their religious views?

      If you have to oversimplify the situation to belittle it, it doesn’t speak well for your position.