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. Pras

    What's wrong with treating Gays who want to become straight? It's freedom of choice for some Gays which can't be denied. So is Mr. Bachmann's freedom to do so. Leftist Media is trying to make it sound abnormal and unusual...
    – reposting, since initial one seems to have failed due to some error.

    July 13, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. George

    I'm a "cured" homosexual. Brought up straight, I experimented with homosexuality in my late 20s and considered moving in with another guy (It's so easy to be with someone of the same sex). But I eventually decided I wanted to be normal and have a wife and kids. 15 years and two kids later, I am happily married and have gotten rid of all urges to have homosexual sex. If we take the attitude that such things are incurable, then we'd have more non-recovered alcoholics and drug addicts. Sexual orientation is merely an exclusive preference of the mind; completely changeable.

    July 13, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Busted2010

    Wow go Bachman, hopefully she can find a cure for interracial marriages and being a muslim or a jew too. This is America's future.... This is the tea parties darling

    July 13, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Pete

    Sen.Bachmann is a typical repub hypocrite,why don't they ask if any of her FOSTER CHILDREN are gay.See if they will come out of the closet,or does the Bachmanns get rid of the evil BARBARIANS,or are they test rats for their religus torture,much like in medieval times.Didn't they take federal money to open this so called clinic,a front for brainwashing our young,typical repug tactics...

    July 13, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. mike

    Pray away the gay are you kidding me this women and her husband should be thrown in jail they new what they were doing and if any of there patients died because of what they did they should be thrown in jail they are the poster parents for what is wrong in this country and why we have such a social divided it is about excepting people for who they are and to justify it we use religion christians are just another word for the devil

    July 13, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Em Kelisvig

    Based on this issue alone, Bachmann will not get my vote.

    July 13, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. zan07

    Please everyone! See these people for what they are. These are very selfish, self-centered people who want to create an extreme christian country. No more, no less. But totally inappropriate for a free democracy. I am a Minnesotan and I apologize for this misguided woman and her family. I GUARANTEE she would never even carry MN in a presidential election. What programs would she offer to GLBT citizens if she were president? These are our friends, families, co-workers. Would there be giant "Sexual reassignment camps" in the Arizona desert?

    July 13, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Bachmann and her husband should be be criminally charged for operating a scam counseling operation and charging the government for questionnable therapy practices. Unfortunately most social conservative Tea Party zealots probably agree with the use of religious based reparative therapy.

    July 13, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Thomas

    How does this woman get any votes for political office? She reflects badly on her constituency....

    July 13, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. kd

    The real story here is the few folks in the few primary states are far right Republicans calling the shots for the majority in their party. I find it very hard to believe that Republicans really have that kind of respect or belief in Bachmann. She's a train wreck.

    July 13, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. Mike

    Sadly, Palin is looking better and better compared to this nut. (Wow, can not believe those were words I just typed)

    July 13, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. DenInNooYawk

    Typical right wing Christian: always put faith before data, decency, rationality, reality, experience, respect for good governance, law and science.

    July 13, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Radical right wing social engineering. These are the same people who say they want 'smaller government', 'no government control of my life', 'we want freedom', and a host of other catchy slogans. But, yet they are the first to pass laws that define and enforce a social order according to their liking, complete with their preference for a government approved religion.
    All of which directly contradicts the US Constitution, which they claim to hold so dear to their hearts. Just as long as they can make a few modifications here and there to clarify the "intent of the founders" for the rest of us.
    We need to thank the Bachmans for demonstrating to any doubters out there the wisdom of the Founders for clearly expressing their desire for a separation of church and state.

    July 13, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. 2cents4free

    Think I'll start a cancer curing "prayer and therapy" center. Who wants to buy shares? Lot's of money to be made. Whoever buys the most shares gets to be "lead therapist"

    July 13, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. xyz

    They answer the phone saying "Bachman and Associates, we can pray the gay away."

    July 13, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. zan07

    snappa- I do know one of her post-high school sons wanted to teach with AmeriCorps! Good for him but just think, their son being a filthy, logic based teacher! Maybe even in a public school where they actually talk about equal rights, mistakes that we have made as Americans and homosexuality! He is probably in the back of their "reassignment therapy" building in shackles receiving intense "communion wafer" treatment. Can we get this straight people- government and religion do not mix and in this country it is illegal, understand?

    July 13, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Mark

    Even if they found the "cure" for what makes a person gay, drug companies would make it unaffordable.

    July 13, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. FM

    What monkey business this woman has been doing??? Does she think she can carry this behaviour all the way to the peoples house (White House)?? Madam, you are not the right person to receive the keys of the highly respected place in the entire world! Sorry!

    July 13, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Flora

    I'm not even gay & I found that 'barbarian' statement offensive as he1 1!! Why are comments like these not being treated like the real issue? If he said that about someone of a differnent color, half the world would demand his head on a platter. If these people really harbor sentiments as hostile as that, they don't need to be in charge of anything.

    July 13, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. Rbnlegnd101

    "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"

    Even if you agree with Bachmann on some issues, do you agree with them on everything? They have made it very clear, you agree, or you are a barbarian who has to be re-educated, by force if need be. I would be very reluctant to hand someone like that the power of the presidency. We may sing some of the same songs, but there aren't many people I agree with enough for that.

    July 13, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. JK

    @Joe – Why is it again that the president needs business experience? The government is not for profit. Businesses could care less about people, which is what the government is supposed to be looking out for.

    July 13, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. Florida Joe

    Anyone that hears these 2 should be VERY afraid that she even has a REMOTE chance of becoming the President.
    These people are really out there...............

    July 13, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This really makes me wonder what she really wants for the country. Does she really advocate freedoms mentioned in the Bill of Rights or does she want to slowly convert everyone to being a hetrosexual Christian? It sounds like her world view is that everyone should be like her conservative Christian or be denied acceptance.

    July 13, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. John

    I don't see what the problem is with offering someone, who chooses to go this place, the option/possibility to change their sexual orientation- and letting them know that it CAN happen. I know people who its happened to. I think people should be allowed to choose.

    July 13, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. D

    This woman is a danger to society...plain and simple.

    July 13, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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