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. RG

    Cuckoo Cuckoo Cuckoo... Our wanna be President!

    July 12, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. goo6er

    Some day a clinic will open that claims to reverse the mentality that supports Bachmann.

    July 12, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  3. chris duff

    do people really consider her presidential?

    July 12, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  4. anagram_kid

    A theocracy is the very definition of big government. The nature of practicing a religion is not about belief, but about behavior. What you are allowed, forbidden and forced to do, the books you cannot and must read, the words you use, the food you eat and even the clothes you wear can all be dictated by a religion. Before anyone says they want this to be a Christian nation, they better be sure they are willing to accept that it may not be their version of Christianity and live with the consequences of having someone else’s interpretation of an ancient book written for a desert culture dictate their everyday life.

    July 12, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  5. Clwyd

    How to steal money and say they are serving a conservative cause. This just goes to show how crazy this woman is and how she has even infected her husband's clinic with her virus!

    July 12, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  6. The Elephant in The Room

    We need only look at the "my way or the highway" approach of the Tea Party manipulated GOP to see why Michele Bachmann can not & will not be President.

    She could not be trusted with executive power. I believe she would literally try to install a theocracy in place of our democracy. I`m a Christian and I wouldn`t take that chance with her.

    July 12, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. Lenny Pincus

    Golly, we all knew ages ago that the Bachmann's run this "pray away the gay" sham. Marcus has a PHD from a mail order house and Michelle went to a discredited law school and Oral Roberts University, the cultural center of Christianist myopia and paranoia. As long as she was only embarrassing Minnesota, the media went along with her game. But now, with the presidency on the line, the media is finally stepping up to expose this shill. About time.

    July 12, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  8. Joshua Ludd

    So, the Bachmanns make part of their living with brainwashing. Good to know.
    Yes, some gay people have a problem with being gay... because society and religion tells them there is something wrong with them.... there is nothing wrong with them.

    July 12, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  9. steven harnack

    So how do they qualify for Medicare payments if they do nothing medically? Can I get money from the government for telling people to pray their problems away? Who knew? Of course I thought people who did that sort of thing were called witch doctors! Well, so be it, the ads go out tomorrow!

    July 12, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. PD

    Bachmann's husband equates homosexuals with barbarians. How nice. Another shining example of Christian brotherly love from repressed, mean-spirited, self-centered people who really don't seem to understand their own religion.

    July 12, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  11. FU

    Haha..it's fun watching her slowly crash and burn...

    July 12, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. HAI

    thank you God. Thank you Jesus. Thank you for battling this disease Ms. Bachmann. Heaven has a place for you.

    July 12, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  13. Atul Chaudhary

    It is a mental disease or disorder or confusion which is curable. There are such clinics in our close neighboring countries in Caribbeans where people have been successfully treated. It is this country where you cannot say anything against wrongful behavior. Of course, if some one talks of change of heart (religiously) then whole liberal group goes after him/her/them.

    July 12, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  14. WTF?

    Bachman is a closeminded dimwit

    July 12, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  15. Thinkingman

    Log Cabin Republicans, are you listening?

    July 12, 2011 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Bachmann, you are a disgrace to the species. And what is even worse is that you have people who support you.

    July 12, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. Aaron

    If the center could cure Bachmann of terminal idiocy, that would be really impressive.

    July 12, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  18. shawn

    My good friend from highschool went to one of these when he was young, confused and stressed by his baby jesus values. It tortured his soul and only made things worse...he went to the dark side of life (drugs and depression) before giving up on his family and church...now he's happy, healthy and married to his partner. Good for him!

    July 12, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  19. CTYank

    What were you expecting from Michelle? Honesty and full disclosure? Hah!

    Kinda hard from such a closed mind.

    July 12, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. me

    Crazy is as crazy does. She makes Sarah Palin seem tame.

    July 12, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  21. shawn smith

    This lady are completely out of touch with most people and homophobes to top it off there extreme views of what they think life should be has no business being in the white house. If elected she would cause anarchy in are country and the country we know and love will be in trouble with the rest of the world. Please people do not elect this fool.

    July 12, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  22. 2tired2care

    I pray everyday that Bachmann will go away and it has yet to work. I hope she has better luck.

    July 12, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  23. dave

    Bauchman is an expert at brainwashing. So no wonder she thinks homosexuality can be cured in therapy.

    July 12, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  24. borisjimbo

    What's going on at that "clinic"? It's not science-based, that's for sure.

    July 12, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  25. Mike

    Michelle Bachmann putting forth a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage? Well then wouldn't that have prevented her from marrying her husband? Oh wait, she only means if two men or two women want to get married. Since shes a woman who married a gay man, thats acceptable. These people are pathetic.

    July 12, 2011 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
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