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. Katy Mae

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

    July 12, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  2. GOP = Greed Over People

    So, now we know that not only has the Bachmann clinic collected almost a million over 6 years in Medicaid, but they are using the funds to "cure" homosexuality?

    Seems to me this "clinic" owes the tax payers about a million dollars and time court for committing fraud to obtain federal funds.

    Perhaps some one from the state should check on the 23 foster kids Marcus and Michele Goebbels had under their influence as well.

    July 12, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. Crazyish

    That is one crazy woman! Like fruitloops! Sad stuff!

    July 12, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. Zoundsman

    Sounds nuts.

    July 12, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  5. Who Cares

    Who cares...a non-issue. At least she started a business. Not much can be said about our current President...

    July 12, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. DorisV

    This is eye-opening. In MN any person can open a clinic and say they can cure homosexuality? Does Mr. Bachmann have a degree in psychology or is he a MD or just a business person making big bucks by stealing money from people? People need to know that Mrs. Michelle is a crazy religious freak. How has she been able to be an elected official for so long. May the gods save us from this nut job!!!

    July 12, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  7. Terry Gloege

    Just another hypocrite who figured out a way to play the system and suck up tax dollars.

    July 12, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. Sir Craig

    Gee, something else Bachmann is completely clueless about—what a surprise...

    July 12, 2011 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  9. bobby

    I'm starting a clinic that I hope will cure overzealous christians of misplaced "faith policing."

    July 12, 2011 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  10. SKyle

    If praying things away worked, there wouldn't be an intelligent, rational, sane person left alive on Earth... just a bunch of inbred Christians.

    July 12, 2011 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  11. Jess C.

    Clearly, this woman and her husband are whack jobs! Homosexuality is not a choice and is not something to be "cured". What an insulting bunch of crap this is! How could anyone in this country stand by these people and support this crap? I remember when I was about 10 my neighbors has twin boys (2 yrs. old). At age 3 & 4 they started to dress like girls and eventually in high school everyone realized they were gay. Now how would a small child calculate this? Give me a break; it's not a choice, people!

    July 12, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  12. Gdawg

    This is a candidate for President? Really? and she has support? OMG... wonder what made her live with so much fear in her life that she wants to control others?

    July 12, 2011 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  13. TinMT

    "The Bachmann's are in no position ethically, legally, or morally to discuss specific courses of treatment concerning the clinic's patients,"

    While the statement above is technically true, it begs the question as to what specific type of psychotherapeutic intervention is provided. As the Director of a Community Mental Health Center and a Licensed Therapist I and my office are ethically obligated to inform the client what therapies are offered. There is absolutely no reason a Therapist or Clinic cannot inform the public of the type of service provided. In addition, the Bachman and Associates, accepting government funding in the form of Medicaid reimbursement, may be in violation of prohibition of tax dollars being spent on religion.

    July 12, 2011 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  14. 8 Years of "Trickle Down" economics has only left a dribbling wet spot on working Americans's shoes!

    When s manic Michele scheduled to do a round on the Sunday talks shows?

    Those I do not want to miss, assuming she has the nerve to still be posing as GOP candidate.

    July 13, 2011 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. S. Garcia

    I can garantee if she is elected, they will not just be trying to "CURE". They will be determined to rid humanity of this "Cancer"! That is the only way these people think! Get the OVENS heated up folks!

    July 13, 2011 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. Susan

    Here you go

    July 13, 2011 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  17. Alex

    hmm, with obama, america will be spent, borrowed and taxed into oblivion. with bachmann, homosechsuals will probably be sent to "happy camps", welfare will be scraped back as much as possible, and we will then plunge into a society where the rich and poor are engaged in an all out brawl.
    hmmm lose-lose

    July 13, 2011 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  18. Big Al

    Where the heck is Larry Craig when you need him???

    July 13, 2011 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  19. Pras

    What's wrong with treating Gays who want to become straight? It's freedom of choice for some Gays which can't be denied. So is Mr. Bachmann's freedom to do so. Leftist Media is trying to make it sound abnormal and unusual.

    July 13, 2011 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  20. krok

    WOW, all I can say

    July 13, 2011 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  21. Possum

    Looks like you have to be a special kinda crazy to be a Bachmann. Apparently, no professional training or licensing is required to practice lunatic psycho-babble "therapy" in Minnesota. What a scam. Bachmann in the White House? Seriously? If that happens, we will all need therapy. It's over for her. Buh-Bye, Bachmann, your 15 is up. Well, more like a minute and a half.

    July 13, 2011 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  22. Bill

    Too bad they can't pray away stupid...

    July 13, 2011 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  23. waylaid88

    Michele Bachmann is co-owner of the clinic and has to accept partial responsibility for what goes on there. Bogus therapies are unethical. Since her clinic receives Medicaid monies, these bogus therapies are also a waste of taxpayer money.

    July 13, 2011 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  24. Tracy

    I just pray that no one in the Grand Ole Tea Party ever becomes president. These people are really scary. I mean, scary times 10.

    July 13, 2011 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  25. polite centrist

    So how many people did they in the last two years?

    July 13, 2011 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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