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. Andy

    This need to be 'trending' til the election if you ask me...

    July 13, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Phoenixjake

    If the gay rights activists and libertarians say they are all about tolerance, freedom and choice. But they can't even tolerate the mainstream teachings of the biggest religion in the land. By calling Evangelicals whackjobs just because of their religious beliefs, aren't they subjecting them to the very same bigotry they detest. If a gay person wants to be straight, or vice versa, how is thay any of your business ? The Bachmanns are simply giving gay people who WANT to change an opportunity to so. Its not as if they tried to outlaw homosexuality. Tolerance is a two-way street.

    July 13, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. 2tired2care

    I pray everyday that Bachmann goes away.

    July 13, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Mindie from India

    No there is no homosexual gene and these people are fooling people (and taking big bucks from Medicare) into thinking they can 'cure' homosexuality. Homosexuality is no threat – the threat comes when someone thinks they know what's best for another individual and they try to 'cure' one's normal and natural behavior or telling them constantly they are bad or are sinnning or are barbarbian as Mr. Michelle Bachman has said. The "Threat" of homosexuality is caused by the people fearing it – not by the people who are actual homosexuals. Because society tries so hard to demonize someone's normal and natural behavior, it leads to violence, destruction and ruins humans who would otherwise be decent and normal people. YOUR views on homosexuality is what makes it 'wrong'. GOD loves everybody regardless – something you all should think about.

    July 13, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. TCM

    I hope they find a cure for homosexuality, and then seek a cure for the other disease that is hampering America; liberalism

    July 13, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC

    How is this any different from obtaining Medicare funds to cure people of demonic posessioins, exorcisms. After all, that is what they describe themselves as doing. Isn't it?
    Rudy sometimes you remind me of the lady they call Bones in the program of the same name. Not everything can logically explained, some stuff is intuition, innate, etc.
    You've expressed your viewpoint on gays on this site before. I don't agree with it but I respect your opinion.
    The Bachmanns have compared gays to barbarians that need to be forcefully "re-educated" out of this behaviour, much the same way that you would deal with an addiction. They believe their "clinical tactics" can pray you out of said behaviour.
    I believe that I was born hetero much like gays were born homosexual. I believe that my God loves us ALL. I believe from the bottom of my heart that not only are the Bachmann's dead wrong but that they are taking advantage of people and misutilizing government funds.

    July 13, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. wleonard

    Oh my god. Dude....they're just born that way...give it up. Jeez. What is wrong with "being gay"? Not like it hurts anyone.

    July 13, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. lefty avenger

    Unfortunately for Bachmann we have found absolutely no way to cure extreme stupidity in america. Gosh darn it, we're not even close to finding a cure for this!

    July 13, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Purnell Meagre

    I'm getting some of my guy friends to start a clinic for treating Bachmann supports.

    July 13, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. matt anderson

    I'm about as independent as it gets and I just cannot believe how crazy some of the repubs are these days. There are crazy's on both sides but it's 2011, praying the gay away, seriously? Is there anyone out there that is being honest with themselves that really believe Bachman or Palin could ever be President? I don't even hate Palin like most but it will never happen. This Bachman lady stands absolutely no chance. The only way you can win the Presidency in this country is if you at least act like you are towards the center, that's Pol Sci 101 and these people aren't even close.

    July 13, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. Chris

    Her husbands the biggest queen there is. I bet the clinic is a place he uses to pick up on guys. Just listen to him when he opens his mouth. The Prada bag falls out.

    July 13, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Mommytoane

    What a disgrace to Minnesotans.
    She going to *cure* insanity, depression and illnesses too? You can't *cure* how a person is.

    July 13, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. barbara451`

    I am sick to death of these alleged religious people trying to cram their beliefs down my throat. Be a Christian, be a Muslim, be whatever you want to be, but leave me alone. I do not need or want your help. I accept full responsibility for my actions and do not need a ghost figure somewhere to blame things on when they do not go the way I want them to go.

    July 13, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. A, Gabriel

    Michelle is NOT a hater; that is what liberals always say when someone disagrees with them, someone with morality in theirs lives. The gays are turning out to be the true haters because they are so narrow-minded and such name callers. Pity. And we do pray for them. God will repair them if they would ask. Keep up the great work, Michelle and others who are simply trying to put these people on the right path. They are acceptable; their immorality, sodomy, and sin are not.

    July 13, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. LEB

    '"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.'

    NO, it wouldn't. There is a HUGE difference between gay marriage and polygamy, groups marriage and etc. Conventional marriage is an act done out of mutual love. So is gay marriage. Conventional marriage involves two people. So does gay marriage. Conventional marriage sometimes results in raising children. So does gay marriage. Conventional marriage sometimes results in couples who never have children. So does gay marriage. Conventional marriage changes how you are viewed as a taxable entity and how property rights are handled. So does gay marriage.

    Contrarily, group marriage involves more than two people. Polygamy is about control over women, not love. Marriage to a child is illegal because the child cannot consent. Neither can a horse or a goat or a dog. Point being, the "slippery slope" argument is ABSURD, because the only difference between straight marriage and gay marriage is that both partners happen to be the same sex. Everything else is pretty much the same... it still involves love, it still involves two consenting adults, and it still involves what those two loving adults plan for their future lives together as equals and as a family unit.

    July 13, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. A, Gabriel

    To Denna: I would vote for my pooch over putting the present socialist man in again. . .how do you like that, you lib?

    July 13, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. KatR

    If this is her business experience she has no business being in the White House.

    July 13, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. sftommy

    I really would not want Bachmann between me, my partner and God.
    We're a three-way already and the other two have turned up their noses at her.

    July 13, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. A, Gabriel

    To respond to Shawn,
    first, we are not wackos. You libtards are the whack-jobs for thinking men doing men is okay. What the heck is wrong with your brain?

    July 13, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. bill

    obama is against gay marriage. Does that make him homophobic?

    July 13, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Jim in San Mateo

    She is nothing more than a wack job being supported by people who have given up using their brains.

    July 13, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Anthony

    So, Ms. Bachmann, which party turns the a routine matter (raising the debt limit) that was done seven times during the Bush Administration into a crisis? Which party holds the government and the economy hostage over spending cuts, but refuses to accept spending cuts if it has to give up tax cuts? Which party seeks to prevent a catastrophe in the future (The U.S. going bankrupt) by forcing a catastrophe in the present (the U.S. defaulting, meaning it cannot satisfy its obligations, like military paychecks)?

    July 13, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. Sam I Am

    I do not understand why people are not outraged about Bachman's schenanigans. THIS is the kind of person we want to lead us??? REALLY??? Bachman's life and philosophies are like an onion. The more layers you peel back, the more you smell the stench. I've smelled enough, thank you very much. Bachman, Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and people like them should all buy a house, ala Big Brother, and live together happily ever after.

    July 13, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    This woman and her screwed up religiious beliefs and so right wing christian, has no right to be in congress, she a bigot , so here husband, for the health of the nation don't vote for this sick out of touch person, they have no clue what reality is in this world, she still a nazi has far as I am concerned

    July 13, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Crazy

    Cure gays? That's ridiculous. It's like trying to cure teenagers of puberty.

    July 13, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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