What's going on at the Bachmann clinic?
July 12th, 2011
09:09 PM ET
8 years ago

What's going on at the Bachmann clinic?

Lake Elmo, MN (CNN)-In her campaign for president, Michele Bachmann touts her background as a small business owner.

"A small business job creator," is how the Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican Presidential candidate described herself in her first campaign ad in Iowa.

That business is Bachmann and Associates. It's a Christian counseling service located outside Minneapolis. Bachmann started the center with her husband, Marcus who is the lead counselor at the clinic. The aspiring first couple and their children are pictured on the center's web site.

For at least five years, Bachmann and Associates has faced accusations it uses a controversial therapy that encourages gay and lesbian patients to change their sexual orientation.

Andrew Ramirez, a former patient at Bachmann and Associates, said in an interview with CNN he witnessed the practice first-hand. In 2004, Ramirez turned to the clinic at the urging of his mother who wanted him to talk about his homosexuality.

Just 17 at the time, Ramirez said he was immediately skeptical of what one of the clinic's counselors told him.

"It was therapy that would help me change from being homosexual to straight," Ramirez said. "If I did this and worked his therapy program, God would perform a miracle and I could no longer be gay," Ramirez added he was told.

Ramirez was assigned a therapy program consisting of prayer, reading Bible passages, and mentoring with an ex-lesbian minister. If none of that worked, Ramirez said the counselor had another suggestion.

"Not acting out on my same sex attractions and living a life of celibacy," Ramirez said.

After the second session, Ramirez told his mother, Beth Shellenbarger, he wanted to stop the therapy.

"And I could just hear his voice quiver and I just said, 'you know, Andy, if you're good with being gay then I am too,'" Shellenbarger said.

The American Psychological Association is sharply critical of efforts by counselors to change a patient's sexual orientation, what's known in the mental health community as "reparative therapy."

"There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," one APA report said.

Marcus Bachmann has suggested parents of gay teenagers can turn to religion for help.

In an interview last year with the "Point of View" talk radio program, Bachmann was asked how parents should deal with a teenager who thinks he or she is gay.

"I think you clearly say 'what is the understanding of God's word on homosexuality,'" Bachmann said. "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined and just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn't mean we're supposed to go down that road," he continued.

In 2006, Bachmann denied his clinic engaged in reparative therapy to "City Pages," a Minneapolis newspaper. "That's a false statement," Bachmann said. "If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that. But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don't have a problem with that," he continued.

This week, a gay rights group called "Truth Wins Out" released to CNN a hidden camera video recorded by one of its activists who posed as a patient at Bachmann and Associates.

In the video reviewed by CNN, a counselor can be heard suggesting homosexuality can be treated at the center, to varying degrees of success.

"You can actually leave homosexuality completely and become heterosexual?" the undercover activist asked on the video. "Definitely," the counselor responded. "It's happened before. It really has," the counselor added.

But the counselor cautioned he is not an expert on the subject.

"I don't have a ton of experience with this. I mean, a little bit here and there," the counselor added.
Michele Bachmann has a long history of controversial views on homosexuality.

As a senator in the Minnesota legislature in 2004, Bachmann called for an amendment to the state constitution that would block gay marriages in other states from being recognized in Minnesota.

"If we allow this to happen, group marriage, polygamy, and much worse would not be far behind," Bachmann said in a video to her supporters.

In an appeal to socially conservative Iowa voters earlier this month, she signed a "Marriage Vow" pledge that also equated same sex couples with polygamists.

Both Bachmann and her husband declined to discuss the clinic's practices. A secretary at the clinic referred all questions to the Bachmann presidential campaign. A sign on the center's door says "no media."

A statement released by her presidential campaign said the Bachmanns were unable to comment on the clinic's practices out of respect for its patients.

"The Bachmann's are in no position ethically, legally, or morally to discuss specific courses of treatment concerning the clinic's patients," the statement said.

The issue has followed Bachmann onto the campaign trail. Asked about the clinic's practices at an event in Iowa Monday, Bachmann dodged the question.

"Well, I'm running for the presidency of the United States. And I'm here today to talk about job creation," Bachmann told WHO-TV. "We're very proud of the business that we've created," she added.

Filed under: 2012 • Gay rights • Michele Bachmann
soundoff (811 Responses)

    Something isn't right with these people, where are their children? They make such a fuss over raising 28 kids, most being foster kids how come they haven't paraded them around yet? Don't those right wingers always parade their families around to prive how "family" oriented they are? I've never seen any of them. Michelle Bachman should be worried more about her husband than anything else.

    July 12, 2011 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  2. Joe

    I have to wonder if Bachman's husband will turn out to be a big closet case. "Methinks he doth protest too much....."

    July 12, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. Indy

    "Well, I'm running for the presidency of the United States. And I'm here today to talk about job creation," Bachmann told WHO-TV. "We're very proud of the business that we've created," she added.

    But she has yet to reveal one detail about HOW she would create jobs, just that Obama does not create jobs and that it is not up to the Government to create jobs

    July 12, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  4. Dennis

    She's such a hater

    July 12, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    And the hate continues unabated.

    And btw, proving these people are despicable didn't require dressing up and fooling people BEFORE taping them on hidden camera. They weren't tricked or goaded. They were allowed to be themelves and still be found wanting.

    July 12, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  6. Lawrence Rener

    In these troubled times she is just what we DON'T need.

    July 12, 2011 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |

    Bachman is not only a nut case, she's a hypocrite and a liar. But she's a good Christian! Bless us all!

    July 12, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  8. Just Wondering

    okay.... here's a pill your normal.... wow how easy....

    July 12, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. jean

    If a clinic can collect medicaid for recommending prayer and scripture readings, why can't churches?

    July 12, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  10. sara

    As a counselor for addiction for the past 23 years, reparative therapy is a no-no. It is UNETHICAL to place your belief system on a patient. You will be "disbarred".......I hope Bachmann and her husband didn't take money from HHS, which I believe they did. Afterall, she is America's Welfare Queen. Non-producing farms substudies, non-profit HHS funds and government monies for each "foster" child.

    July 12, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  11. roro

    Is it just me, or does Mr. Bachmann have some homosexual mannerisms?

    July 12, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    Right-wing social engineering, plain and simple. Why not put them in camps and make them wear uniforms with pink badges- oh, wait, the Nazis already tried that. Bachmann is already considering investigations into Anti-American activites: is this the next step in the GOP/TP Final Solution? Who is next on their list?

    July 12, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  13. Dawn

    That woman is disgusting.

    July 12, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  14. JT

    I shudder to think of these evangelical christian fanatical zealots running our country. Is the US really overrun with these type nuts or is it that the media covers them because they are such freaks and therefore not the norm? I hope for the latter.

    July 12, 2011 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  15. Joe M.

    I'm no Bachmann supporter, but it's more business experience than Obama ever had.

    July 12, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. Jim

    Incredible, It's like living in the middle ages.

    July 12, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. Frank Brady

    "There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," one APA report said."
    This is hilarious, especially coming from the APA which arbitrarily and with no evidence to support the decision decided to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders (philia) in 1973. The campaign to legitimize this often lethal behavior has been supported by the news media and much of the political establishment in a way that can only be described as irresponsible. The homosexual "cause" has been advanced under a civil rights model that equates "sexual preference" to a status (equivalent to gender or race) rather than a behavior. This is completely fraudulent. There is no "homosexual gene" and although there may be a predisposition toward certain types of aberrant and destructive behavior (alcoholism, eating disorders), there is no credible evidence, capable of replication by disinterested investigators, to suggest that homosexuality is anything by a dangerous obsessive/compulsive behavioral disorder.

    The media's treatment of this and its active support to legitimize the disorder is disgusting and completely unethical.

    July 12, 2011 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  18. Jaded

    Pray the gay away. Better yet support human rights for all humans, not just straight ones.

    July 12, 2011 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  19. jim

    michele bachmann is absolutely insane. Way to use the slippery slope fallacy of logic.

    July 12, 2011 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  20. marc

    I can't believe this guy. This is probably a typical very closeted gay queen who is so repressed that he hides his true self by being against his own kind.

    July 12, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  21. Terry

    If this was not so sad, it would make a great sitcom on cable television.

    July 12, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  22. Mona

    Shame, shame, shame on this clinic.....exploiting gays & lesbians with federal funds then denying it? Who's the
    prevaricator here? This entire business is pretty shifty if you ask me & there is more than meets the eye!

    July 12, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  23. DonBeal

    If I only had the gift of gab, I could start a snake-oil business, too. Let's see. Make a sort of nasty tasting beverage, sort of brownish. Put some alcohol in it. Say it cures something or it makes some other human experience more pleasurable. Now a snappy name. Getitup-keepitup! Look, I'm a small businessman! I'll hire people.

    July 12, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  24. Johnjon

    Those poor sick, confused, disturbed people just need God's love................. I hope the Bachmanns get help immediately.

    July 12, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  25. Katie

    "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated."

    Yikes. Just...yikes.

    July 12, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
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