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. Iskrenie

    The "aspiring First couple"? Really...it is to laugh...

    July 13, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. TwM

    We should support this woman and her organization, if they can cure such a malignant disease like being a gay (such a destruction of a good word) or lesbian then this is a very worthy business. Being gay is an affront to nature and needs to be eliminated from modern soceity. I am sick and tired of walking the streets with my children and being asked why are those two men (or women) kissing? that garbage needs to be done behind closed doors rather then in the public eye.

    July 13, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. bb

    A "FOR PROFIT" business at that. Bachmann is a scam artist, pure and simple.

    July 13, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Phil

    I think she is confused about the country of which she wishes to rule as President. I believe she's supposed to be campaigning in Uganda, not the United States.

    July 13, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. bcrunner

    What's so absurd is these people think President Obama is dangerous for the country... LOL!!

    July 13, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Roger

    How did people like this ever get a foothold in our democracy? It seems we are overrun with lunatics, zealots, idiots and barbarians!! We all need to really pray that none of these nut cases are ever elected President. I don't agree with everything President Obama is doing, but compared to any of these looneys, he is the only choice in 2012.

    July 13, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. dripple

    America will not regain its status as a great nation when religious freaks like this are taken seriously as candidates for political office.

    July 13, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    If these allegations are true, she not only created a business but probably destroyed personal lives along the way.

    July 13, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. scooter

    As straight person it never occured to me, not even once, that I had a choice about what sex I was attracted to. My gay friends, all of them, also cannot remember a time when they had to decide what sex they were attracted to. This whole debate is totally silly. The simple fact is that there is a percentage of people who need a group to hate and demonize. Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Irish, Italians, Russians, we all got the middle finger from that crowd. But in the long run that crowd was swept out of the way. And they are being swept out of the way of gay humans too. And to the members of that crowd...don't worry there are always the Muslims you can hate.

    July 13, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Leroy

    President Bachmann...has a nice ring to it!

    July 13, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. Indy

    You know something is seriously wrong with yourself when you make Sarah Palin look like a viable candidate. Bachmann is running as a job creator, just how many jobs has her Gaywash Clinic created ? And how many government grants did she recieve for this clinic ? She makes it sound like she has hired thousands of people so it would be good if she could quote facts and tell us how many jobs she has created in her business life.

    July 13, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. rusty

    if gay is a disease i will keep it. being the underdog made me into a better human being that can appreciate all diversity. i would rather have a life of accomplishment than leisure. i would not get rid of my homosexuality even if i could. it is a core fundamental of who i am as a person. i turned out more successful than any intolerant uneducated hilljack around here

    July 13, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Greg

    She'll do just like the Republican Congress did in 2010. Claiming that they're all about jobs but when they got elected they went after their political opponents (Planned Parenthood, unions, NPR etc), and went after social issues and not one thing done about jobs. She'll do the same. Republicans simply cannot govern unless it's by the Bible. They'll destroy this country if they get control again. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    July 13, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Indy

    If you believe in intellegent design, why would you try and change that intellegent design by washing the gay out of humans of intellegent design ?

    July 13, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. andrew

    First off, its none of Bachman's business to tell others how to live their lives. Secondly, its none of Bachman's business to tell people how to live their lives. I'm not homosexual but if I were, I'd make sure she heard me telling her over and over again to mind her own damn business and get her long nosy nose out of mine.
    "Political Christians" like Bachman remind me of Muslim Ayatollas who simply cannot shut up about other people's personal business.

    July 13, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Mark

    If god made us homosexuals, isn't "therapy" going against god's will? Homosexuality has been documented in nature for hundreds of different species. Should we give them therapy to?

    July 13, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. JG

    @Matthew, it's controversial because it's not possible. If you're gay, you're gay. Period. Bachmann is falsely advertising to miserable and/or confused gay people that you can "pray the gay away" and be all better. She's just another nutjob living in the Dark Ages.

    July 13, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. Mah

    Barbarians? The only barbarians are Michelle Bachmann & her husband.

    July 13, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. WBN

    Just because some people have different views about homosexuality does not mean they are crazy; America may be losing it, but we're supposed to be a nation where people can hold diverse opinions. The Bachmann clinic is what it is; people don't have to go in there. They can also leave when they want. Some people involved in homosexual activity want out. Live and let live! Oh, I forgot, you can live "free" if you are liberal, but you are not supposed to if you are conservative, according to the "open," "broad-minded," "inclusive" leftists.

    July 13, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. CRA

    I don't know much about Bachman but I had assumed when she said she was small business owner and created jobs, I thought she had small factory or something. Instead she has quak clinic which gets Medicaid payments. I can see she is a true entrepenure.

    July 13, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. KBNJ

    I completely agree therapists shouldn't push a g@y client to convert, but I'll never understand the media and gay activists' resistance to therapy. If someone wants to try to change, why not? Pretty hypocritical. Fact is, NOBODY knows if being g@y is genetic, environmental, or (IMHO most likely) some variable combination of both. I'm hetero, but I don't know if it's because of genes or environment (or both), so don't tell me "I was born this way" – you don't, and can't know.

    July 13, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. Dennis

    I don't even know what to say, Bachmann is out of her mind.

    July 13, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. rosaadriana

    Aaah, if only they could come up with a way to cure religious zealots. Now that would do some good in the world.

    July 13, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. KBNJ

    I completely agree therapists shouldn't push a clients to convert, but I'll never understand the media and activists' resistance to therapy. If someone wants to try to change, why not? Pretty hypocritical. Fact is, NOBODY knows if it's genetic, environmental, or (IMHO most likely) some variable combination of both. I'm straight, but I don't know if it's because of genes or environment (or both); "I was born this way" is a pretty arrogant statement – you don't, and can't know.

    July 13, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. CR

    The good doctor Bachman exhibits all of the typical symptoms of a self-loathing homosexual. This same behavior has been observed in many Republicans from Roy Ashburn to Larry Craig. Hiding in plain sight is the oldes trick in the book.

    July 13, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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