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. GSW Minnesota

    Congratulations to the overwhelming majority of you who understand this woman for what she is... a sham and an embarrassment. I take great pleasure in knowing that between the clinic fiasco and new "pledge" crap (along with all the other details soon to come out), Michelle's day in the sun is about to set. Maybe then the country can get on to some qualified candidates and intelligent dialogue.

    July 13, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Jefferson87

    To Frank Brady:
    First, the APA removed it because it did not fall within the APA's definition of a disorder.
    Second, homosexuality is "often lethal"? Not quite. Check your facts.
    Third, there is plenty of research to suggest a "gay gene." From scientists being able to literally make fruit flies gay by turning on a gene to twin studies showing that genetics plays an indisuptable role in orientation, the evidence is clear. We may not have pinpointed the gene, but there sure is evidene to support its existence.
    Fourth, no, sex addiction is a dangerous behavior disorder. Just because you think of casual, unprotected sex with several strangers when you think homosexuality doesn't mean it's a facet of the orientation. And it's definitely not exclusive to the orientation. Straight people have careless, casual sex and catch STDs in the process also.

    July 13, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Ronald

    Who made her "God" to decide who is good and who is bad. These politicians have egos that really give them the idea that they know all and can do all. She is a real piece of work and should stick to raising her 28 kids because she isn't getting elected.

    July 13, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Rob

    nothing wrong with the tea party its just the leadership or lack of that kills its ability to be taken serious.

    July 13, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    They are "slightly" more tolerant on this issue than the Taliban whose "cure" is to execute them. Hey can you fit that on a bumper sticker? "Vote for us, we are slightly more tolerant than the Taliban". Good luck with that.

    July 13, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. DumbasRocks [R]s

    If they dig around in that clinic enough, I think they'll find evidence for experiments with Hitler's genes. Bachmann is certainly being injected with something that makes her very similar to the Nazis. When she starts growing that half-assed moustache, the deal will be closed.

    And, AmericanDoc: Heil Hitler, you unrepentant apologist for the rightwing underbelly!

    July 13, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. barking alien

    Maybe we can pray the Tea Party away instead of the gay away.

    July 13, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. tor

    Well, there are too many levels of insanity here to know where to begin. But we can at least point out that this “clinic” is the basis of Bachmann’s claim that she knows how to create jobs. Great plan! Let’s get America back to work curing homosexuality!

    (And, yes, we do accept Medicare… until we eliminate it.)

    July 13, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Larry

    To the various writers here who believe being gay is a choice, it isn't a choice any more than being straight is a choice. Go talk to a gay person and ask them about it. If you don't have the nerve to do that, then just shut up.

    July 13, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Greg

    I do know many ex-homosexuals, mostly men, but none of them were cured of their condition in this manner. It was more about self-discovery and identifying trigger moments in case history. This sort of practice does a huge injustic to the many homosexuals who have changed.

    July 13, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. GaryB

    The sad thing is, the Bachmann's have received nearly $30,000 in federal handouts, uh, I mean, grants (free money for employee training) and a couple hudred thousand dollars in medicaid payments to support a counseling business that essentially just gets people to pray and read the bible. Couldn't a church do that for a whole lot less of our federal money?

    July 13, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. skeeter

    Maybe if the Bachmanns spent more time in their bedroom they could stay the f outta mine!

    July 13, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Cindy

    Too bad her clinic can't cure ignorance and stupidity.

    July 13, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Greg

    Even thre foremost experts on animal sexuality have stated that homosexuality in the animal kingdom is almost always a temporary state and quickly changes when a suitable opposite-sex partner is introduced. One of the leadinf experts said the following, "Homosexual behavior is best known from social species. According to geneticist Simon Levay in 1996, "Although homosexual behavior is very common in the animal world, it seems to be very uncommon that individual animals have a long-lasting predisposition to engage in such behavior to the exclusion of heterosexual activities. Thus, a homosexual orientation, if one can speak of such thing in animals, seems to be a rarity." I think it's the same way with humans.

    July 13, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. jane

    Michele Bachmann is a typical Big Government Conservative hypocrite who thinks phasing to energy efficient light bulbs is the height of government oppression, yet she literally wants the government to force women to give birth against their will and dictate who can marry whom. Hello! You can't play the dumb "gubnent OUT OF OUR LIVES!!!" card and then oppose gay marriage and reproductive freedom. You just can't, unless you want to prove you actually have no values. These people truly want an oppressive, theocratic government that controls the most personal aspects of our lives. Oh, they're "conservative" all right. They want to "conserve" their privilege in society and oppress everybody everybody else through Big Government Conservatism.

    July 13, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. vincent

    Who is this nobody to judge? How dare her. If this lady is that narrow minded on this how can she be president. As president you have to be open to many schools of thought. Not just yours

    July 13, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. DumbasRocks [R]s

    Hey GSW Minnesota: I wouldn't count on your rosey picture of the country after Michelle is gone. Afterall, she is merely a symptom - kooks like her, pretending to be leaders, will always be around. The real problem are the thousands of drooling rightwing rubes who actually think like her and support her special brand of socio-cultural malignancy. These are the IDIOTS who give a mentally diminished and unqualified person like Bachmann political traction in the first place.

    July 13, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. jane

    How many of the cowards who hide behind the ridiculous "gay is a choice" nonsense chose to be straight? I'd like to hear your story, because NEWSFLASH: If you chose to be straight, YOU'RE GAY.

    July 13, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. bb

    GOP, you are pathetic. Just pathetic.

    July 13, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. Sup

    All you need do is listen to Marcus Bachmann when he speaks and you will understand his obsession with all things gay. Just sayin'

    July 13, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. manbearpig

    BREAKING NEWS: Scientists conclude that praying the gay away doesn't work.

    July 13, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Jess Sayin

    Ms. Bachmann should be more worried about the state she was elected to serve, than citizen's sexual orientation. Minnesota is going under financially, people are going broke too, but this woman feels that fighting gays is what really matters. Please GOP, find reasonable candidates. Betty Ford's passing really highlights just how low the GOP has sunk lately.

    July 13, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. SciFiChickie

    1) Apparently Mrs. Bowman your "Gaydar" is broken cause honey your man is Sooooo GAY
    2) Would you like it if a Muslim was running for President & stated that he wanted to abolish divorce, because it is an inmoral sin to the Nation of islam? -No you would not
    3)Why is it ok to push YOUR religious values?

    July 13, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. PatriotM

    And just a few verses away the Bible says that men "shall not cut the hair on their face and the sides of their head", yet these fundies sure go for short hair, and ham, and shrimp, and catfish, and a lot of other things "forbidden" in the Bible. Cherry-picking hypocrites living off the hate and paranoia of others.
    Proud to be straight, not narrow, happily married, able to understand the science that proves sexual orientation is genetic, and have enough respect for the Constitution to respect the rights of ALL American citizens.
    Bachman and her hate-mongering ilk are what's wrong with this country today.

    July 13, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. primafacie

    This center merely teaches gay people how to repress their homosexuality. I bet in a lot of cases it doesn't last and many of their patients who eventually get married end up cheating on their spouses later in life with a same sex partner. Sure, there probably is a very small percentage people who "choose to be gay" because they want to attention or whatever; however, the vast majority of gay people are born with the trait and people need to learn to accept this fact. It's really not a big deal, they're just regular people. Anyone who has gays friends should be able to tell you this.

    July 13, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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