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)
  1. Michelle Bachmann

    And we accept Medicare! So come on down and pray away the gay!

    July 13, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  2. Gail Hennessey

    I undertstand Bachmann's facility gets federal funds. Now, if she REALLY wants to cut government spending, perhaps, she should start by returning the moneys her clinic receives! What a hypocrite!

    July 13, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  3. Paul

    Yet another Republican presidential hopeful we can rule out of actually winning. And it's sunny outside too... I'm having a good day.

    July 13, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  4. Jennifer Bond

    It has been said the price of sin is death. Over the years I have come to the conclusion, a lack of acceptance is a sin. I have died emotionally, spiritually, and financially. You see, I am a transsexual female, I am also a nurse, once upon a time a parent, and now a Christian. For years I had major issues accepting that I was a transsexual woman, to the point of attempting to be a man, marrying, and becoming a father. I allowed myself to come dangerously close to suicide, finally realizing no matter what treatment or church, I was still what I was. That realization of course cost me a marriage and a son that I continue to pay child support on. Even with all of the tragedy I have endured due my own lack of self acceptance, I now am at a point where I have now accepted myself, my church has accepted me, and I am confident my God has accepted me. What the zealots don't realize, there is only a small mention of homosexuality in the Bible. Divorce is mentioned often, try engaging a social conservative in a biblical divorce debate!

    July 13, 2011 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  5. ModXell

    And this is the person that wants to be president? Eh, I think Obama locked in the elections already.

    July 13, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. Trandana

    "homosexuality can be treated"
    lol you people are seriously confused

    July 13, 2011 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. scott

    *sigh* The clinic is treating the wrong people.

    July 13, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  8. Scott

    So anyone who doesn't agree with Bachmann or believe in what she does is an "uneducated barbarian" and should be forced into her viewpoint? Yeah, intolerance and a desire to force one's will on others is a great quality in a presidential candidate.

    July 13, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  9. Gary

    she's done .. our President would have cleaned her holly clock anywho

    July 13, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  10. confused

    wait..... who is this woman running for president? Never heard of her.... probably won't again....

    July 13, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  11. voter and citizen

    as a US citizen...is any embarrassed for Bachman and her supporters? Usually Bachamn is the person used to scare democrats into voting.

    July 13, 2011 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  12. Neil

    Anyone who claims to be a counselor and proposes this nonsense should be prohibited from providing psychological "treatment" to anyone. Anyone with half a brain in the medical community knows that it is absurd to think you can change someone's sexual orientation. If anyone needs to be cured it should be for the belief in imaginary super-friends. Please Michelle, keep your ignorant religious views out of politics! It would be greatly appreciated!

    July 13, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  13. Sortakinda

    Michele Bachmann's therapy sessions aimed at curing her stupidity have been abandoned without any signs of success.

    July 13, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  14. Noocrat from MN

    "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."

    Why do Republican's, who are supposedly constitutionalists, constantly trying to override the Full Faith and Credit Clause?

    July 13, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  15. Dale

    Sounds like she will be getting a lot of support from the GL community. And with the "better off as slaves" schtick, she'll get the Black vote too. Fortunately, neither of these groups vote in Republican primaries, so she may have a chance in the primary. Then you will see the biggest defeat in the history of the general election when Obama takes 45 of 50 states.

    July 13, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  16. Randy

    It's about time somebody takes a stand for sanity.

    July 13, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  17. RalphS

    So much for focusing on the economy. GOP cannot nominate Bachmann and expect to win in 2012. Much like the "other one" she is not electable based on the pure fact that the vast majority of eligible voters do not think like her. Although I will support Obama in 2012, I truly would like to see the GOP nominate someone that is not only intelligent, but one that can keep their religous beliefs seperate from the real task at hand. I would like to see good, clean debate. We must not forget that our independance from England was based on more than just the tax on tea, it was also based on the desire to have freedom from a single, dominant church. The Tea Party candidates give the impression that they would like to re-create that single, dominant church in modern America.

    July 13, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  18. JPX

    Wow, the belief that one can "switch" one's sexual orientation just shows you the level of stupidity we are dealing with here. It frightens me that in 2011 there are people who still think this way. How did this woman ever achieve any status?

    July 13, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  19. samsmee

    This is just all kinds of wrong.......

    July 13, 2011 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  20. coy4one

    Does Bachmann plan to create jobs for all Americans? Or just straigh people?

    July 13, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. mikel

    If you want the freedom and respect to be a homosexual, then you have to return the freedom and respect for those who don't want to be. If you don't, then you don't deserve the freedom either.....

    July 13, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  22. vp

    The Bachmann family takes government money to do this while denying benefits to the out of work and the poor.

    She has neither credibililty nor integrity.

    July 13, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  23. BostonMWS

    Perhaps it is time we perform reparative therapy on Christians. They need to be straightened out before they do any more harm to themselves or others.

    July 13, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  24. Just As I Thought

    So translation; Man knows better than God.......and man's word here is Bachmann is wrong for trusting God & not man.
    A word of advice to all of you who ditch God & His Word for "man's wisdom"...........Sirs/Madams........one day we will ALL stand before a Thrice Holy God & give account for our every word & deed......your wisdom will then flee as water down a river!

    July 13, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  25. C Shaw

    Thanks for the one sided treatment of the Michelle Bachmann's clinic report Really good reporting. Where was the interview of the issue from the Christian perspective? You sight the psychologist view as "fact". Kinda like a court trial with only the prosecution presented. Perfect bias.

    July 13, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
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