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)

    homosexuality , like any other SIN, can be repented of if the person choses to do so. Repentance of course will result in a
    change of lifestyle.

    July 13, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. LA Momma

    Their tactics must not work very well...her husband Marcus is a total queen! (search for videos of him online and you'll see what I mean).

    July 13, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. NJ Mom

    My thoughts on her:
    #1. She is a hate filled "Christian". Something of an (oxy)moron. No love for others who are different, disenfranchised, etc.
    #2. She is dangerous in that she is whipping up people to follow her mandate of hate, blame and racist fear-fulled twisted ideas. Think back to the Holocaust and how Hitler began...
    #3. I bet that husband is a Pervert the likes of which we have never seen before
    She keeps touting 28 kids...she went to the Palin school of exaggeration....very dangerous....very filled with hate. Most importantly, she has no helpful ideas.

    July 13, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Greg J

    I think she has the right idea – homosexuality is a disease and needs to be cured – they should be rounded up and sent to Iran or Saudi Arabia.

    July 13, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Joe citizen abroad

    Feel for ya, Gloria. Still remember Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

    July 13, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. BOb the Prairie Dog

    We need to build a huge catapult and launch people like this into the Pacific Ocean.

    July 13, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. Rick

    Only in America folks...only in America. How is it that you folks just keep churning these hillbillies out?

    July 13, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Where Did We Go Wrong?

    Bob, remember that up until a few decades ago us lefties were punished. Often in Catholic schools for showing any sign of being left handed.

    When my government says there is a seperation between churce and state, I expect them to follow it. Do not bring your personal opinions into this and sure as hell don't ever tell me that someone deserves less because of who they are and who they love. SHAME ON YOU.

    How about our leaders focus on how to make life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL their main focus?

    This country is in need of a revolution lead by the people. just about every singe one of those in office are focused on their party or the top 2%. This has got to stop and WE THE PEOPLE need to stand up to this crippled government who has tarnished OUR way of life while they sit in their leather chairs collecting a paycheck for no work being done.

    They are not our peers and in no way our LEADERS.

    These are the actions that start revolutions. They are making their politics about their agenda and not about the people of the United States of America's citizens.

    Revolution! Revolution! Revolution!

    July 13, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. C. Howe Yulikit

    What's funnier than the joke of a campaign that Bachmann is running (she'll be out of the race after the North Carolina primary) is the apologists on the right on this blog, claiming media bias, or left wing hatred or that Bachmann somehow 'scares' the Democrats. She's crazy, so are her supporters and all anyone is doing is holding up a light to the cockroach – no one is making anything up. This lady is certifiably insane.

    July 13, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. anton netherlands

    I'm flabber-gasted! What is wrong with these people, man? These conservative man and woman are like people in a SECT. This sick woman must be hospitalized, en learn a thing or two about compassion.
    "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated" Indeed, you must, misses Bachman. Indeed you need to be educated!

    July 13, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. BOB in INDIANA

    Homosexuals can repent of this SIN, if they choose to do so. Just like liars, murders, & those who steal can repent.
    Repentance will lead to a change of lifestyle.

    July 13, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Dave

    All humans have the ability to choose their behavior- that is what separates us from animals. A person who has gay urges, can choose not to act on them. If this clinic is helping people who want to make that choice – that is okay.

    July 13, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. webspy

    and if you pray real hard and give us lots of money we can change your eye colour!

    July 13, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. JSA

    I can't believe our country has come to a point where we are actually taking her presidential candidacy seriously. Anyone who associates gays with "barbarians" and believes you can pray it away is just delusional and deserves no place in politics. Here's to hoping that one day all the ridiculous social conservatives will crawl back down into the hole they came out of.

    July 13, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  15. bob

    So it is barbaric to be a homosexual but not barbaric to accept the beliefs of the uneducated from 2000 years ago? BTW, if the sons of Adam and Eve were to reproduce they would have to do so with their sisters or mother. Wouldn't that be barbaric. I hope America doesn't jump on this crazy train.

    July 13, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Bachmann is completely bat$hit.

    July 13, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. If you cant cure it abort it

    being homosexual is a sickness NAMBLA

    July 13, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    people that are as anti-gay and homophoic as the Bachmanns tend to raise red flags to me. Remember Sen Craig and Rev Haggard in Colorado? They were anti gay supposedly then turned out caught up in gay situations. Same thing happened with Jim Bakker years ago. Someone like Sen Vitter so much into "family values" along with Newt Gingrich and look at what THEY did. Just don't be shocked if down the line there is something NOT being made public here. I bet somebody is digging into such a possibility right now.

    July 13, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. 'merica ruined by rethugs


    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".
    Hey Wrongster,
    Put your mortgage on that, please. I'd love to buy your foreclosed property for pennies on the dollar.

    July 13, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. jh

    Okay, first of all, if Bachman's husband isn't gay himself he's the most effeminate straight man since Dana Carvey's "Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual" - and I think it's much more likely that he's simply another airport restroom scandal waiting to happen. In the second place, why are my tax dollars (via Medicaid) helping pay for something that calls itself "Christian therapy" and that is nothing but religious indoctrination. Where's the separation of Church and State? It's bad enough that the Bachmans prey on sad, self-loathing homosexuals, and profit off their shame (which the Bachmans encourage) without taxpayers being billed for it.

    July 13, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. Dave IL

    And this is news? Maybe as a right wing conservative if she was running an abortion clinic there'd be something to talk about here. I'll bet they counsel against abortions too!

    July 13, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Lucinda

    So she is saying that being gay is a choice and you can choose to be straight. That would mean that everyone in the world is bi-sexual and the straights choose to be straight but have homosexual feelings and people who choose to be gay also have heterosexual feelings and so on. So everyone just leave it alone, seems we are all in the same boat.

    July 13, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. KBNJ

    The clinic is saying "If you want to change, we can help; it is possible." Critics are saying "You CANNOT change your orientation under ANY circumstances, and those who tell you can are criminal." So...who is more closed-minded and anti-human rights? CNN: This story is disgusting. You truly make Fox look "Fair and Balanced".

    July 13, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC


    I'm straight, but I can't tell you if it's genes or environment any more than anyone else can. If someone wants therapy to change, why should it be unethical to provide it? Obviously, therapists shouldn't be pushing clients to change their orientation, but the undercover guy didn't get that – he got the opposite.
    This is not an ethical question as much as it is a legal question of using federal Medicare funds to promote one's religous views. For example, a church cannot apply for Medicare, but it can or could offer identical treatment. The real problem is that this looks like a case of gross Medicare fraud.

    July 13, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Uthor

    This couple is pretty creepy.

    July 13, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33