What's going on at the Bachmann clinic?
July 12th, 2011
09:09 PM ET
3 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. seebofubar

    I'd rather develop an aerosol so we can "Spray the Gay Away". There have been thousands of people who have decided they are gay after years of hetero relationships and tendancies, there is no reason not to believe that the opposite can be true. Homosexuality is a personality flaw to it's very core. Homosexual relations can not procreate, you need male and female that's the way of Nature. It should not be encouraged, celebrated, accepted or promoted nore should it be persecuted or judged, that's Gods responsability.

    July 13, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Shannon

    Thank goodness that people are waking up to how evil and crazy this woman is. From hiding in the bushes at gay pride events, to saying slavery is a good thing, this woman is a complete nutjob!

    July 13, 2011 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Dona Miranda

    Pseudo-physician heal thyself! HA HA!

    July 13, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. DB

    "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."

    That would be what is the understanding of God's word as envisioned by those who chose to write them many years ago. God will judge who the barbarians are and it won't be homosexuals but those who pretend to play God and judge them.

    July 13, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    you think they can help minorities pray away being minorites as well? If that works then maybe the high black and Latino unemployment rate can go down. :)

    July 13, 2011 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  6. Grumpy

    If they ever figure out how to cure ignorance and stupidity, there will be hope for Bachmann, her husband, and Sarah Palin, for that matter.

    July 13, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. JHaas

    Unbelievable. Some people are outraged that the Bachmann center allegedly offers therapy to gays. But they aren't mad at the psychiatrists who allow confused men and women to get their bodies horribly mutilated for the sole purpose of creating the cosmetic illusion that they are of the opposite sex. These people aren't outraged either about the greedy surgeons who prey on these poor souls. Why aren't these two predatory industries not under scrutiny for these gruesome practices?

    July 13, 2011 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  8. johnny57

    I think we need to do more work in this area. We need to work on the cure for the disease, and quit treating the symptoms. Legalizing gay marriage is just treating the symptoms.

    July 13, 2011 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. Lance

    If American social conservatives and fundamentally religious people wanted homosexuality to "go away", the best thing they could do is quit making it an issue. From a Canadian perspective, homosexuality here quit being a political or hot button issue specifically because....well.....we quit making it one and moved on. Last weekend I was at a gay wedding attended by Canadians and Americans of all stripes: gay, straight, conservative, liberal, professionals, blue collar workers. Everyone there had a great time. Some Americans who were attending their first gay wedding said they had some apprehensions but were amazed that it turned out to be "just a normal wedding" and ended up enjoying it. The religiosity and social conservatism of the US is often puzzling to me, and I'm very thankful to live in a secular country that isn't bound up in worrying about religiosity and faith in public policy.

    July 13, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. amwa

    These people the Bachmans drink at the trough of what they hate. They bill Medicare but are against it. They bring God in to the treatment of gay people, when medical science has said it is not a choice. I also would like to know who all these foster children she says she has raised are and why none come forward to speak for her. No. 1 I am sure she had a nanny to raise them, No.2 how long were they in her care, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, I would be surprised that she raised them. I do hope if they were older children that she didn't have too much influence on them. That would be bad. I really admire foster parents who take in children and raise them themselves, if this woman really raised these children without help and for many years I will be mighty surprised.

    July 13, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Jake

    ignorance is dangerous! hate and ignorance mixed...extremely dangerous!

    July 13, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  12. JR

    It's a shame there's no "reparative therapy" for evangelical zealots.

    July 13, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  13. curious.georgia

    Awesome! I didn't know there was a cure. Does anyone have the number for the clinic? Praise Jesus. I'm checking in asap.

    July 13, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  14. Carl

    Conservatives in Iowa love her. What's that say about Iowan's. What's that say about those that want her to be our President. I am worried about these people getting in government positions. Government is for "all the people" not just these idiots.

    July 13, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  15. Seth Hill

    If we allow gay marriage, what will be next? Polyandry? Pedophilia? Bestiality? Necrophilia? Francophilia? An ex-friend of mine confessed he has a secret compulsion to marry his iPhone. I told him to keep it his pants. His iPhone, I mean.

    July 13, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. STEPHEN

    the bible is clear about homosexual acts, God forbids them and will punish them if not repented of before death.God always gives the power to live a chaste life or he may heal same sex attraction, we are free to live by GODS LAW OR TO REJECT his grace and live selfishly.It is no different for anyone if i am maried or single i must live a chaste life, these are the requirements for anyone wants to live with God for eternity. The altrnative is seperation from God for eternity.

    July 13, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    "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. "
    lol. I believe Jack the Ripper released a similar statement.

    July 13, 2011 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. John

    Let pray real hard and may be she will go away. we don't need this Tea Party nut case to be running.

    July 13, 2011 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  19. Derek G

    If you can't discipline yourself into certain habits and patterns of thought, you are weak. And we are all weak in some way, but there is still hope for change.

    July 13, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. David Stone

    I hope these lost individuals that call themselves gay find God and get right in their life.

    July 13, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. Jamesquared

    I have read the posts here with some interest since I am a gay male in Canada, actually happily married to a man. Besides my homosexuality, I tend to lean to the right when it comes to politics and I find myself quite turned off my left-wing media. I actually like Michelle Bachmann, although I dont think she stands a chance winning any election. And I understand the people that are against her clinic and their methods. But let me put it this way: I have had years of prayer and counselling and been through very similar circumstances as many other gay men. My father is a Baptist Minister for crying out loud! Nothing worked since the "healing" that is required is simply celibacy and denial of your emotions and feelings. Let me clarify: a homosexual who isnt "practicing" is still a homosexual because that is who they are, whether they act out or not. Most of the advice not to act out is more to satisfy others, not to help the person troubled by their very nature. Let me put it this way: a few hundred years ago, left handed people were ostracized and criticized. They were not allowed in holy places. Parents were told to ignore their children's natural left-handedness and make them right-handed...laughable now. So to all those out there who claim to understand homosexuality and claim it can be cured- a left-handed person who writes with his right hand IS STILL LEFT HANDED! But to all the fearmongers worried about the Bachmann clinic techniques, don't concern yourself about them. They are trying to understand something they cannot. All of this has NOTHING to do with Michelle Bachmann being the next president of the US, does it?

    July 13, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  22. janetlaw

    Can we all hope this is the first step in the trumping of this idiot! Praise Jesus, I hope so!

    July 13, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  23. Joe

    Is there still freedom of religion in this country? Are you saying if someone runs a Christian Counseling center they can't run for president? A lot of Christians believe in what the Bible says about homosexuality being a sin (and therefore a choice). So naturally they will counsel gays in what they believe. That doesn't mean that they would force (as a politician) gays to become "ungay" it just means that that is what they taught in their counseling center. Many gays believe they are "born gay" is it wrong for someone else to believe differently? Homosexual activists demand tolerance but they refuse to tolerate someone else's difference of opinion. America 2012...

    July 13, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. Diane

    Bachmann finally exposed for what she truly is – another Republican Nut Job. The GOP sure seems to attract them in droves.

    July 13, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  25. manonfetch

    "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined ..." So...now homosexuals are ignorant barbarians who need to be disciplined. And we want to elect this guy's wife as president?

    July 13, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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