What's going on at the Bachmann clinic?
July 12th, 2011
09:09 PM ET
2 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. a4mrtheist

    One more GOP Tea P artier to guarantee a dem win.

    July 13, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. Stratmaster

    And this is the "frontrunner" in Iowa... smh...

    A religious zealot lunatic is the best the GOP have to offer. Looks like 4 more years.

    July 13, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  3. Dan

    Insanity. It is about time people learn that gay corrective counseling DOES NOT WORK. (For someone "intelligent" enough to run for president, you would think she would understand something so simple.) If you believe this, please go back and run for president during a decade where the APA agreed with you.........30 years ago! Times change, please change with it.

    July 13, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. Cedar Rapids

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

    Yeah, that kind of says it all doesn't it?

    July 13, 2011 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  5. Don Lee

    She's worse than Sarah Palin. I didn't think that was possible.

    July 13, 2011 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Geneo

    So what's the big deal? Christians pray for many things. This person walks into this Christian clinic and some counselor suggests They "may" be able to help. OMG! Call out a seal team. I think I'll pray for a fair and intelligent news media. Like that's going to happen.

    July 13, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. bobby

    Absolute "Fraud,Hatred,and Un-Human Activity at this "Clinic" The Gay Community does,nt need a "Shrink" Mr.an Mrs.Bachmann need the Best Phycologist in America, to Study what makes this kind of Hatred Tick????? Mr.Bachmann and his "Nurse Michelle" are poster people for Inhumanity! What an American Nightmare! Definate "Embarrassment to our Educated Women! When I see these two "Dancing and Twirling, it,s very hard for me to keep my food down! Lord, "Help us All"

    July 13, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. Joe The Plumber

    Is there reparative therapy for homophobics?

    July 13, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  9. Josh

    I am ashamed to live in a country where this woman is seen as a legitimate presidential contender.

    July 13, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. jenn,philadelphia

    Interesting how going after families is off limits if the candidate is a Democrat, but with Republicans everything is available. If you have a problem with her qualifications, and there are plenty, so be it. Make the argument. And the way the press has gone after Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton during elections is amazing. We have learned that racism is wrong, but sexism is alive and well and not a problem.

    July 13, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. informed voter

    Michele Bachmann and her family's "business" is a fraud and should lose its government funding. This ethically and factually challenged woman is an embarrassment to smart, educated, working women across our nation. The more the curtain is peeled back on her husband's "counseling center" the more will be revealed regarding Mr. Bachmann's sexual preferences and why he is so bent on "curing" homosexuality with prayer, a practice frowned upon by most licensed psychiatrists. I'm looking forward to watching Mrs. Bachmann's champaign collapse.

    July 13, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. Jo Ann

    Medicaid and private insurance companies do not pay for experimental treatments. The APA says there is insufficient evidence that reparative therapy works. Has the Bachman Clinic billed, and been paid, for this treatment? If so, they should have to return those funds to the taxpayers and to the private insurers.

    July 13, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Canuck

    I don't think that these are the type of people that you would want running the country.

    July 13, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. A. Goodwin

    I like my presidents to be non-judgemental of others. Bachmann obviously fails that test as she proves what a bigot her and her husband are. You cannot cure being gay – and to say so is a blatent lie.

    July 13, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  15. james - St. Paul, MN

    Mr. and Mrs. Bachmann have a long history of hateful and narrow-minded comments about people in our society that don't look or act like themselves. I think they are very wrong, un-Christian, and narrow minded. I don't hate the Bachmanns, but I clearly do not think such narrow minded folks have any capacity to lead our country through the difficult challenges we see today. We need clear and open minded people who are willing to build consensus and compromise with a wide range of political, social, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Our nation is no longer majority European, and our country was never majority fundamentalist Christian; we need a leader who is willing to acknowledge and embrace the diverse US population and make peace within our own country. Ms. Bachmann is simply not somebody who has the capacity or temperament to lead the United States.

    July 13, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. Taioseach

    Beginning of the end. Bye, Bye Bachman...

    July 13, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  17. James

    If Mr. Bachman is resting his entire practice of reparative therapy for the conversion of homosexuals to heterosexuals based on scriptural interpretation he lives in a world of literal interpretation. His wife would then have no business running for president. As Paul in the Epistles stated, a women should not venture into expressing her spiritual or religious views in pulbic, yet wait until she is at home where she can discuss them privately with her husband. Do you think Jesus thought that? Absolutely not! He had women around him in his ministry, and who was the first to tell the world the tomb was empty.....a women!!!! What did Jesus have to say about homosexuality? Nothing. And neither should we. Love your neighbor as yourself, care for the orphans and widows. Those are the bullet points we should all get from scripture. They were important to Jesus.

    July 13, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. jackpot

    What a couple of frauds these Bachmanns are. If Marcus Bachmann is any example of the success rate of his little "clinic" at changing gays into straights then they don't do a very good job. If silk purses fell out of my mouth the way they do out of Marcus's mouth every time he speaks, running a clinic specializing in "fixing" gays is the LAST thing I'd get involved with. He's not a very good "advertisement" for the success of their services.

    These people belong in jail, not involved in politics. The voters in Minnesota must be complete morons for putting this crazy woman in office. Hopefully the media will keep up their investigations of these two scam artists before they do too much more damage to this country.

    July 13, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. TR

    Applause. Applause.... Finally, someone to help those who struggle with same sex attraction. Our social echelon has approved of this behavior but in reality, those who suffer with it are crying deep inside to get out of it. Just like every other addiction, it takes hard work and focused programs to break the stronghold. Stop making it normal to come out, and give them the help they want and need.

    July 13, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. Tom

    It's my understanding that such therapies do work. Go to the website for the institute of Catholic culture (www.instituteofcatholicculture.org)and listen to the audio on "Speaking the Truth in Love: Christianity and Homosexuality," which uncovers many myths about homosexuality.

    July 13, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. todd

    There is variability to an individuals sexual behavior. We have a lot more control over our behavior that many will have you think and environment ("nuture") has more impact than advocates will admit.

    July 13, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. Mark

    The longer she stays in the spotlight the more obvious it becomes that she has no business running this country. Her husband is as crazy as she is. Republicans have long been accused of being out of touch with the average American. Michelle and her husband are perfect examples. Maybe they can cure poverty, hatred and intollerence? Naw. You can't cure what you promote.

    July 13, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Flint Rock

    If you want to know is wrong with America check out those that are devotees of this human anomaly.

    July 13, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. USA is Sad

    Christian is as Christian always has. Its time we elected a non-Christian President. We need someone who doesn't believe in superhero's or accepts science fiction as reality.

    July 13, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  25. Chris

    I'm immediately skeptical of anyone who is so vehemently anti-gay that they make a public life out of it. They usually turn out to be closet homosexuals who can't deal with it. So, my bet is that Mr. Bachmann is a fannybandit.

    July 13, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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