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. Steven

    Geeeeez CNN can you be any more exposed for the Obama flagship that you are? But seriously, gay rights????? Probably the LAST thing we should be worried about in politics today.

    July 13, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. Macman

    Wow, this is just sooo horrible, people recommending abstaining from unnatural and immoral, non productive lustful relations. Oh the horror of the Bachmann's Divine and natural law views. The gay lobby is about the most bigoted and hateful lobby out there today. Funny that they espouse names like "Tea baggers" but "hate speech" is decried by their own hypocritical lobby. Lets speak truth without letting irrational emotions fly

    July 13, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. Rickster

    I can't wait to hear the wailing sound of democrats on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 when they wake up to hear the words "President-elect Michele Bachmann".

    July 13, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Chester1984

    Thank God I live in Canada! A country where we accept equaility in the ranges of race or sexual orientation. Closed minded ideas like this is just plain retarded. I cant believe this woman is running for President and shes popular!?

    July 13, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  5. maggie

    But for the relative few who are likeminded or just plain crazy, she will implode. The problem is that they have no one else to go to right now. Why would Rick Perry be much different? Everyone else is pretty much ho-hum.

    July 13, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. DB

    Breaking News!!!! Bachmann husband therapy backfires. One of his patients convinced him to become gay!

    July 13, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. maggie

    As a job creator, how many does she actually employ in her husband's business - 6?

    July 13, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. Seraphim0

    I don't know what's more horrifying... the fact that this woman has so much support and has gotten as far as she has... or that modern, intelligent people truly believe you can change your se.xuality by force of will and counseling (by the by, you cannot. You can learn to control urges and how to not act upon them- much like any cognitive therapy for OCD or hoarding- but you cannot 'cure' homose.xuality). Both are quite scary facts.

    July 13, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. Tony

    Yea this article makes it seem like they go out on the streets and grab gay people by the necks and force them into therapy. When, actually, gay people are seeking out this clinic because of moral depression. Why is this clinic being critisized for providing a service that people want/need? Liberal media is telling a story about their website "mysteriously" shutting down after airing a news story about this clinic. Thats called a "server overload," and it occurs when too many people are accessing a website and the server is unable to host all of the clients. They didn't shut it down becuase they were trying to hide anything. So everyone on here can critisize the Bachmann family for owning a business and helping patients who seek them out, hiring employees, paying taxes and being republican. But if you don't accept them for who they are, you going against your belief of wanting them to accept gay people for who they are..

    July 13, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Randy M

    I am a moderate republican only because of idotic comments like these where republicans think that they can people from being gay. It is a choice and who they are, just like being born and having the choice of being a hetero-sexual. I would be more on board with republicans if they would just stop trying to use the political arena as a platform for their christian ideology. Democrats can be the same way. Let's deal with the real issues that we face, unemployment, debt crisis, economic recovery, etc., and stop with trying to change who a person is based on their sexual orientation.

    July 13, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Rhonda

    Once again all evangelical Christians are wrongly portrayed as being the same because of a high profile case.

    July 13, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    I would think their Medicare claims would be a matter of public record. I would be curious as to what *ailments* they claimed to have been treating, and what types of *treatments and procedures* they claimed to have provided. This is could be an open and shut case of fraud.

    July 13, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. petercha

    Jude 1:7
    "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

    July 13, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. Sniffit

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

    They didn't get the memo about the Civil War beig won by the North.

    July 13, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. greg

    GOPers seem to need to faces to talk...they want to be president to help create jobs...they believe the government has too much influence in the economy...but they want to use their power as president o create jobs...and rely on less regulation...because corporations are model citizens...not driven by reckless greed...though that is the base of the capitalist system (a potent force indeed but also destructive if left un-checked)...the financial collapse brought on by risky speculation and lowered credit standards...coal mining accidents...oils spills in the gulf...there is a long, long list...all mirages.

    July 13, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. terre08

    Is this the same business that received federal dollars?

    July 13, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Mike

    Why is it that those who purport to vehemently defend the constitution are usually the ones to advocate for laws that degrade its protections?
    Why is it that those who believe so strongly that government should not interfere with people's lives are usually the ones who want to impose their religious ideology on others through legislation?

    July 13, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. John

    The better Bachman does in the polls among Republicans, the better it is for Obama in the general election.

    July 13, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. LetoAtreides

    There are many people with abnormal sexual impulses (homosexuals, pedophiles, exhibitionism, etc..) who have been successfully counseled and have moved on to have normal sexual lives. If homosexuality is counted among the list of sexual abnormalities that people can suffer from, (and it is!), then services such as what the Bachmann's provide is noble. Our country is in a sad state of immoral aimlessness and that means that anyone trying to reestablish sane moral behavior is bound to be called an "extremist" or "radical". In this case, I'm relieved to be a "radical" then.

    July 13, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Nikolai

    Wow, how can the repubs actually consider backing this woman. She is borderline certifiable.

    July 13, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. me

    I like how this is stated as a fact "Michele Bachmann has a long history of controversial views on homosexuality."

    July 13, 2011 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. DENNA

    I don't know about anyone else, but I find Michelle Bachmann a bigger abomination than any gay person on the planet. Really! Who does this woman think she is? What makes you so special Michelle? What? It certainly is NOT your kind heart or loving nature. I cannot believe that any reputable agency would let YOU be a foster parent. Get over your self.

    July 13, 2011 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Joe citizen abroad

    "Reparative therapy." "Intelligent design." It's medieval.

    July 13, 2011 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. mamasrudeboy

    ...are any of her God's special children a minority....hmmmmmmmmmmmm

    July 13, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Victoria

    This pair clearly chased after the Faith Based money made handy by the dubbya to perform social engineering experiments.

    July 13, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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