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. Linton

    That is what we need in office – a faith healer....first, we had GWB who was annointed by his god to be prez, now we have his right hand woman Michelle christ, and family, performing healing after judging what is right and wrong for other people. Ain't America grand?!

    July 13, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Alec H

    "Dan J

    Bachmann has a history of controversial gay positions according to the article, which sites that she doesn't want to recognize gay marriages. When did that become controversial?

    Dan – Its not controversial, what is, is thier business taking gov funds from a program she says should be scrapped, medicare, and using it to push your own personal beliefs onto a group of people under the vail of "helping' them,

    If the US wants to help the Gay community, and the gov wants to do something about it, they should stay out of thier lives and let them decide what is best for them.......hmmmm, that sounds so , so like a GOP position. Weird...another example of my way or the highway from a GOP pres can.

    July 13, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Linton

    foreverwar – thanks for the great laugh!!!!

    July 13, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Chuck Anziulewicz

    At a conference in 2004, Michelle Bachmann said that following about Gay people:

    "This is not funny. It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It's anything but gay." She added, "If you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage."

    Ms. Bachmann is certainly entitled to her insane opinions, but such remarks are all the proof I need that she is in no way fit to be President.

    July 13, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Anonymous

    "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,"

    Sigh, I mean doesn't this religion driven righteousness sound the same as any Islamic fundamentalist in the Middle East? Barbarians, forced discipline...it's no different...

    July 13, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Who gives a crap, this is such a non issue that less than 1% of the population cares about. is this the best that the liberal smear machine/media can come up with? You disappoint me!

    July 13, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. tools

    He said, she said. Where is the proof? Got any records from the clinic you want to share with us Ramirez? You want to expose someone then you had better make sure you have proof!

    July 13, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. GI Joe

    How is a smaller government EVER going to monitor every woman's uterus, every person's religious beliefs, and every human's sexual preference??

    July 13, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What purpose in this life could Bachman possibly have for telling millions of Americans who happen to be gay, that they are less of people than herself?"

    Her so called Christianity, of which she no doubts thinks she is on the highest level of ... being the next best thing to God, as she portrays herself to be. I'll leave it for God to judge. For her sake, though, I do hope that He isn't nearly as intolerant as she and those of her ilk are at judging - might cause each of them a great deal of gnashing of teeth, and hand wringing - when all is said and done.

    July 13, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Alec H


    "Wake up Babylon. Homosexuality is unacceptable, and always has been. It is a sin and Christians advising sinners to repent and change their ways is not newsworthy. It's sad that this sin has gained such a legitmacy in society that this story has any traction. It would be more shocking if a Christian counseled gays to stay the way they are."

    your beliefs are not that of the free market......you can't have your cake and eat it too. Either the GOP is for the free market all the time, or they need to stop beating the free market drum only when it fits their personal beliefs and not those of a country of 350mil people. What happened to love they neighbour? What happened to love they brother and sister? What happened to the belief that the greatest gift "god" gae to man was "Free Will"?

    I am a straight Married man, but i have no issue with someone being gay, its not a choice, its just who they are.......maybe, the gay community should open a clinic and get gov funds to turn straights gay, you know, thier personal beliefs.

    July 13, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. AEJ

    Now we know why she cannot have a straight talk interview. She always, all the time, side-set the questions asked of her. She is a NUT-WIG

    July 13, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. didit59

    As an Independent she will never get my vote. She is to extreme in many people's views. And she would divide the nation worse than what we are now. And the Tea Party they have really put a nail in their coffin. For their political movement. For they pick candidates that have no clue on uniting people but rather cause more division.

    July 13, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. MiddleOfTheRoad

    None of this should surprise anyone. Besides, she's "A small business job creator,...."??!?!

    July 13, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Dee

    Whatever licensing agency licenses these counselors, they should investigate and sanction Bachmann and any employees who engaged in reparative therapy. As a licensed psychologist it is well known that reparative therapy causes harm, and their is no empirical evidence it works. The MN Board of Psychology probably knows about Bachmann and should have restricted or suspended his license long ago. As for the employee who said he 'wasn't an expert or anything', and only has a little experience 'here and there': Competency guidelines set by licensing boards tell practitioners to adhere to practices only within their areas of competency. Where did this guy get his degree?

    July 13, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Al in Florida

    Here's a gal that is obviously "spacy" and has not told the truth in response to direct questions. Just imagine this person as President of the United States and making decisions based upon "Christianity" and "Chrurch Lady" viewpoints. If this were to happen, I can see the military taking over in order to protect the United States and getting the power back to citizens would be increasingly difficult.
    Go ahead GOP ! Show us that Bachmann is the person that most closely represents your views on governance and policy !

    July 13, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. Brian

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

    Did Bachman really just call gay people "barbarians"??? This woman has jumped from 'daft' to 'completely insane'.

    July 13, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Annie, Atlanta

    "Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road."

    This is a direct quote from Marcus Bachmann. Who does he mean by "we." Him? Them? What a strange way to put it. Almost sounds like he's talking about himself with that wording. And, of course, there's a lot of speculation about a man's sexual preferences when he protests about the gay lifestyle so much that he actually claims to be able to cure it (and with taxpayer money to boot).

    July 13, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. KAK

    Not commenting on her politics but rather a comment on Christianity.

    Christianity as taken from it's authoritative book condemns homosexuality (and fornication, adultery, looking at a woman or man lustfully who's not married to you, etc...) as sin. Jesus calls those who want to share in His eternal Kingdom to repent of their sin and change. All sinners can change whether they're homosexual or addicted to porn. A good friend of mine was living an unrestrained gay life for years and without being forced by anyone, has come to realize it was sin and he's repented of it and is actively dating a woman whom he plans to marry.

    Just wanting to offer God's word and hope to any of you reading through this column.

    July 13, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. Carrington1

    Okay, the weight of professional opinion is that sexual orientation is not a mental illness and can't be "cured". But, reasonable minds differ. Many religious counseling professionals believe otherwise. Health care professionals do not classify religious belief as irrational either. The guy in that sting asked to be cured. His target only agreed to help him do what he said he wanted to do. There was nothing illegal or even totatlly irrational about that, unlike those caught up in the Acorn sting.

    July 13, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. Matt

    I'm watching from up in Canada. This is a total joke guys. I know that this woman doesn't represent the majority of your country. I think she and other clowns vying for leadership positions simply illustrate how the neglect of your public education system now runs the risk of sinking your democracy.

    America has some of the lowest education rankings of all industrialized nations. She also ranks highest out of industrialized nations for people who classify themselves as 'strongly religious'. Just look to the middle east to see the far end of that spectrum.

    July 13, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. sck

    We are very proud of the business we have created, but I will dodge all questions about it and refuse to discuss it.

    July 13, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  22. JoeT

    There's just been a serious misunderstanding here. It's true the Bachmann (Teaparty Overdrive) wants to cure all homosexuals, but not in a medical sense– more of in the sense of how meat is cured– mostly through hanging it on hooks and salting it.

    July 13, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. john316

    The question is: How do we cure the Bachmanns of the world....that's what we should be concentrating on in these clinics.....it's the Bachmanns that need Reparative Therapy.....we ask that all "Tea Partiers" pray for the Bachmann's redemption....

    July 13, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. Mattie Webb

    Ignorance is bliss – Bachmann is blissfully ignorant. Fetal development is beyond Miz Bachmann. I suppose she is going to counsel those who are born with cleft palates, atrial-septal defect (hole in the heart), webbed digits, oh – and cerebral palsy, ad infinitum. After all, they were born different. Being born with a physical defect and/or an endocrine/hormone disorder isn't a sin. God made you – right? Time to return to critical thinking folks. The superstitions of 2000 to 5000 years ago aren't working.

    July 13, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. logic in LA

    The real story here is not that Michele and her husband are medically behind the times, but rather that they take FEDERAL DOLLARS to do this! The Tea Party Darling and her husband actually get Medicare funding for this lunacy! This is wrong on so many counts yet people still think she is a good choice for President! Medicare funding for religious beliefs while saying the government is spending too much on this very program that could help deserving people. WAKE UP AMERICA- this woman is a hypocrite and dangerous!

    July 13, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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