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. GSW Minnesota

    Lord can't you cure gays from all of their sins?
    Those people are gay and they must make amends.
    Lord won't you save them from all of this hate?
    Michelle's clinic can pray them all straight! (my apologies to the late Janis Joplin)

    July 13, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. th

    JM you must be kidding. More business sense than Obama? Trying to change someone because they "Bachmann 's" think they have a magic wand? What happened to separation of church and state? She is trying to push her outlandish beliefs on anyone and everyone. No thank you. I have my religion and don't need a nut case like Bachmann to tell me what I should believe in or not.

    July 13, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. heerobya

    Evangelical's scare me. Legitimately frighten me.

    This kind of stuff is not at all unexpected, sadly.

    They think because of their faith they are better and as such have the right and privileged, the DUTY to convert and change all "lesser folk" because they've "seen the light."

    It is no different then Jihadists in my book.

    Our Way or Eternal Suffering and Pain is not too far a stretch from Our Way or Death.

    July 13, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  4. SK

    The extreme liberal left and their agent, CNN, are scared to death of a female candidate from the Republican party and I predict they will assault Bauchman, for whom I have no feeling toward positive or negative, in much the same manner as they did Palin, who by the way I can't stand. We the People deserve the opportunity to evaluate the candidates on our own and make our own decision about who should be the next President. We shouldn't have to see CNN and NPR constantly berate a candidate day after day throughout the process. I guarantee you CNN will have a Michelle Bauchman story in the "Latest News" section of their home page every single day from now until the primaries.

    July 13, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Will

    Some guy named Frank on here states there is no gay gene, that we are not born this way. Gee Frank, are you speaking from experience, your gay? I am and I have known I was gay since I was about 6.

    To think that we are not born this way is about as stupid as voting for Michele Bachmann.

    July 13, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. abby, texas

    Is no cure for the madness that Bachmann and her husband are perpetrating on unsuspecting fools? By the way, the APA will tell you that the so-called therapy to "cure" homosexuality as offered by Bachmann & Assoc. is not only ineffectual but can also be harmful. But, what do they care? They're getting paid good money for bad therapy. As for their so-called belief in small government and no "hand-outs" they take government money at their clinic and receive farm subsidies....
    They are Pharisees shearing the sheep....

    July 13, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Jeff in Virginia

    Government money paying for religious "therapy"- that's what's going on.

    July 13, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. If you cant cure it abort it

    Great Idea. If you know there is a sickness it is our responsibility to cure it.

    July 13, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Jen B

    Uh, it's a Christian-based clinic. What do the people going in there expect? That's like an alcoholic trying to go to an AA meeting to learn how to moderate (not quit) his drinking. People should really do their research better before committing to invasive treatments like therapy.

    July 13, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Will

    Did it ever occure to you John C that I do not want to change? My sexual orientation is part of my experience of who I am and what I am and I am not only fine with it, I embrace it.

    July 13, 2011 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. ron in california

    "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.". This whole thing is rididulous. Gays are 10% of the population and 90% of the attention. Give me a break. being gay is ok...but stop all the whining. Act like the rest of us...that is keep you sex life private as it should be and no one will care.

    July 13, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. soporifix

    The Bachmann-supporting posters here run to two types: insane people and closet cases who want their prejudices legitimized by law and science. Either way they're pathetic and have zero chance of their candidate getting within smelling distance of the White House.

    July 13, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. Matthew

    How is this controversal? If people want to stop being gay then we should work for them to stop being gay. This wouldn't even be a controversy 5-10 years ago.

    July 13, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. JW

    This is great. The more of this comes out the less likely we will have a republican president.

    July 13, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Lee

    Yikes. I did not realize she and her husband are charlatans. How does someone like that run for president? So he is some kind of "medicine doctor", getting people to pay him to use "the power of prayer" to heal them of their sexual orientations. Quite sick of the Bachmanns's to abuse their fellow people like this.

    July 13, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. Ed

    What is the issue? If you go to the free Christian counseling and if they do indeed tell you that they have counseling that could change you from homosexual to "straight" then you have a choice – stay for the counseling or leave. No one is tied up and forced to go to the counseling. The counseling is a choice that someone can make – I thought liberals were all about choice!!! As to homosexuals and liberals being upset that anyone would even suggest counseling might be able to make them "straight" – well get over it and don't go to the counseling.

    July 13, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. JW

    This is great. The more of this is exposed the less likely we will have a republican president.

    July 13, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. JW

    I hope more of this comes out so she does not become president

    July 13, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. Val

    This lady is scary! Running for president....pshh... I've been scared since the day I first heard she was going to run. I also find it funny that she was appealing to "convervative Iowa"- gay marriage is legal there! As a former Iowa native.... they're not so conservative. Haha.

    July 13, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Ed

    What is the issue? If you go to the free Christian counseling and if they do indeed tell you that they have counseling that could change you to "straight" then you have a choice – stay for the counseling or leave. No one is tied up and forced to go to the counseling. The counseling is a choice that someone can make – I thought liberals were all about choice!!! As to g_ays and liberals being upset that anyone would even suggest counseling might be able to make them "straight" – well get over it and don't go to the counseling.

    July 13, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. ricnaustin

    To Frank Brady's comment:

    What makes you an authority? Everything you state regarding "the APA which arbitrarily and with no evidence to support the decision decided to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders (philia) in 1973." Pretty clear you'e the one make the arbitrary and lack of evidience to support your thinking. To state "there is no "homosexual gene." yammer, yammer. WTF? You don't know that! Just being a gene hasn't been pinpointed to homosexuality does not mean it doesn't exist. Science continuously discovers things about our bodies. Gene therapy wasn't always available.. Why do I even bother responding to "authorities" such as yourself, since you know everything. You're disgusting!! Blech! Call it hate; call it what you want, but don't for a minute think you know what is right or wrong on this issue.

    July 13, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. chris in CA

    I can't wait to ask my gay friends what it's like to be a barbarian.

    July 13, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Tony

    Just more proof of their If you do not think exactly like us and behave lick us then there is something wrong with you and you cannot be part of America. UNQUALIFIED for the presidency.

    July 13, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. Holly

    Really? So me being a lesbian is just a .... disease? Like Herpes, HIV, Smallpox or Gonorrhea?

    And Bachmann is going to 'cure' me??? And this is her platform for running for the US Presidency?!?!

    July 13, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. chris

    mickey mouse has a better chance at becoming president...there is no way...zero chance that she could be prez...

    July 13, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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