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. ArnoldB

    Glad to see someone trying to help these gay people. God knows they need it.

    July 13, 2011 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. Dick

    but can we cure christians?

    July 13, 2011 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Brian M - Seattle, WA, USA

    Quoting Frank Brady –
    "there is no credible evidence, capable of replication by disinterested investigators, to suggest that homosexuality is anything by a dangerous obsessive/compulsive behavioral disorder."

    And what's your issue about homosexuality, as you call it, all about Frank?

    July 13, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. Denny

    Homosexuality is innate and cannot be changed or cured; science proves that. Stupidity is innate and cannot be changed or cured; Bachmann proves that.

    July 13, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  5. Jack in Florida

    I would like to ask Michelle Bachman at what point in her life did she choose to date boys?? Think about it......IT'S NOT A CHOICE!!! Leave people alone and stop playing God.........he does not make mistakes!!

    July 13, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. rob

    I'll never understand why Rethuglican, conservative, right-wing, religious fanatics think they can force other normal people to accept their deviant views and lifestyle. They love to tell other people how to live their lives, while their own lives are in shambles. The Christian (esp. Catholic, Mormon, Evangelical, and Southern Baptist) Taliban in this country are going to face a violent wake up call soon if they keep trying to spread their hatred, intolerant views and actions on normal Americans.

    July 13, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. jamison

    She also wants GOP hopefulls to sign a pledge of fidelity. I thought we did that when we took MARRIAGE VOWS you moron. This women is a total waste of DNA.

    July 13, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  8. Karate Elf

    Seriously? This is what they are giving us for a candidate? Good grief, between this idiot and Palin, I'm almost starting to miss Hilary Clinton. I can't imagine the harm they are doing trying to make people into something they're not – telling them that who they are isn't ok. People like this are the LAST thing we need. And no, I'm not gay. I'm Catholic and I believe we should love people for whoever they are. Pride always was the first sin.

    July 13, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  9. Barbara the Barbarian

    I just want to say why is everyone picking on the Barbarians? Let he/she "Bachmanns" who is w/o sin cast the first stone. Judge not lest ye be judged by the same measure.

    All I can say is I would rather be surrounded by people who are accepting than people who are not. So perhaps your heaven is made just for "you hypocrites" and maybe homosexuals and other sinners who love God will have our own heaven. I sure don't want to be in any place with hypocrites.

    July 13, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  10. Lizzy10

    Well, he's just as kooky as she is. May God bless and keep these two, far away from us.

    July 13, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  11. Lizzy10

    Crazy is as crazy does.

    July 13, 2011 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  12. roscoe

    How does a business like this even exist? There are only a few people stupid enough to believe this works and they all appear to be running for the republican nomination for president. Without medicade or insurance fraud, this "clinic" can't possibly stay in business.

    July 13, 2011 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  13. David

    This woman is another Palin... a fraud and DISGRACE !

    July 13, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  14. westwing

    The clinical definition of homosexuality is a mental illness. There are many kinds of mental illnesses that are treated. Why is it suddenly offensive to apply that to homosexuality as well. Keep in mind that homosexuals are not a race or gender. It is an abnormal behavior, and changing laws to redefine it as normal behavior will cause future problems for society.

    July 13, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. mike

    I think she's just around to be Palin's foil because Palin will seem so reasonable after this quack.

    July 13, 2011 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. Jerry

    I can't believe these religous people can't keep thier hands out of other people's business. These people are religous nuts! If your gay, it's not by choice, at least that my thought about it.

    July 13, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  17. Me

    Never heard anything so bent., This woman is crazy. Is this freedom of America or is she the regligious judgement we get to choose. I believe in God but I believe we are judged on who we are as people and our faith. If we take a positive path in life we are in Gods hands. For President? Imagine what else she will do.

    July 13, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  18. Bethany

    Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem like Bachmann is forcing her beliefs on anyone.....the people who go through this know what they are getting into. As a Christian myself, I am getting tired of people saying that just because we do not believe that homosexuality is moral that we have hate in our hearts towards these people. That is NOT true. If someone I knew told me they were homosexual, I would love them just as much as I did before. That doesn't mean I would agree with their lifestyle, but I would pour my heart out in prayer over them. It's also hilarious to read these post about Evangelicals or whatever, saying hateful things about "Hateful Evangelicals." A little hypocritical don't you think?

    July 13, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  19. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    When it comes to the whole respression thing, all I can think of is the "Help, help, I'm being repressed. Come see the violence inherent in the system." It does beg the question of what is this company doing with federal funds it receive and what would they do with someone who comes to accept their homosexuality but has other problems? I wouldn't say that they advocate violence on those that don't accept their Christian attitude, but what good would they do?

    July 13, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  20. Pete55

    To be "cured" of something shouldn't you have to prove it is a disease or disorder?

    July 13, 2011 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. TheAlaskaCurmudgeon

    I wish the clinic could teach methods of repressing Michelle Bachmann's mouth.

    July 13, 2011 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  22. Zoe

    Women like Bachmann and Palin set the women's movement back decades. Honestly, why is it that the bonehead female politicians are getting attention and not the intelligent ones? I know they are out there. Reveal yourselves and run for president.

    July 13, 2011 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. StoptheMadness

    Man I wish this woman would just disappear. Her and her right wing religious nut job beliefs think they can cure being gay with christian counseling. Wow what an idiot.

    July 13, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  24. Tom Forster

    If there's a cure for this.. I don't want it... don't want it.

    July 13, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  25. Jesus Cristo

    I am a TOTAL LIE! The Bachman's are a RACKET!

    July 13, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
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