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. Andrew

    So she's a christian religious nut, are we surprised?

    July 13, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  2. conoclast

    Of course she's the republicans' front-runner; she's a deluded religious whacko and the darling of the tea party: what more have we come to expect from them? Bachman is best described as a cartoon of herself; her very candidacy makes a mockery of the elections process!

    July 13, 2011 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  3. pael

    Wake up Babylon. Homosexuality is unacceptable, and always has been. It is a sin and Christians advising sinners to repent and change their ways is not newsworthy. It's sad that this sin has gained such a legitmacy in society that this story has any traction. It would be more shocking if a Christian counseled gays to stay the way they are.

    July 13, 2011 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  4. CF

    "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.
    I need a little more precision with the 'God would perform a miracle' part.

    July 13, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  5. Thomas

    I have a therapy program that helps Christians become rational, caring, tolerant people. I call it an education.

    July 13, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  6. Thomas

    Whatever her view on Gays are, she is about using her business acumen to run the government. Simple fact, a business owner knows nothing about running a government. A government is a non profit organization with a purpose for service not sales. Does Michelle Bauchman know anything about raising funds for something that will not earn a revenue? Does she or any other business person in the country for that matter, understand that if you take a loan to run a program that doesn't profit(all government programs are non profit) that the interest and fees on that loan raise the cost of the program and guarantees that the program will run over budget and will have a shortfall? This is simple math that any elementary student can do, but the biggest and brightest of our political and business minds don't understand. Michelle Bauchman can run her clinic to cure gays all she wants but she will never be able to create a single job as a politician because the Government doesn't create jobs if they aren't needed. It simply creates temporary employment opportunities and most of those jobs are farmed out to contractors who take 50% or more of the money to fund the jobs and the employees get about 10% of that (Pulling numbers from a hat. Look it up and learn the truth). She can't cure gays any more than she can turn around our economy or anything else in this country using her business skills.

    July 13, 2011 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  7. williamb293

    WOW. Why can't a politician want a smalll government and leave social issue alone.

    July 13, 2011 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  8. foreverwar

    It must be hard to achive the clinic's mission when the disgusting appearance of Bachmann herself could make any man find gay sex more appealing.

    July 13, 2011 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  9. Chuck

    And if I'm not mistaken, their clinic has accepted 133.000.00 in Medicaid funds. Ouch.

    July 13, 2011 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  10. Al

    I am so glad that groups like "Truth Wins Out" are keeping the candidates honest. Homophobia is no longer acceptable. People have seen the damage it does to teens and young adults and what this form of BIGOTRY to stop. Candy coating it with religious dogma doesn't stop it from being prejudicial and hate-filled! Time for the homophobia to stop! Gay right are civil rights!

    July 13, 2011 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  11. Alex

    Stuff like this disgusts me. This has been disproved numerous times, and completely looked down on by the The American Medical Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association, The American Psychoanalytic Association, The American Academy Of Pediatrics, The National Association Of Social Workers. But they're not THAT prestigious...

    July 13, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  12. pockets

    These religious people like Bachman and palin are extremely dangerous to society in general. Both of them will only see the inside of the White House with at ticket and a tour guide.

    July 13, 2011 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  13. Matthew Jones

    I think Michele Bachmann should not be allowed to have it both ways, I would like to know what is she really for?

    July 13, 2011 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  14. Lindsey

    Michelle Bachmann has no problem expressing her views on topics such as homosexuality etc. I share her views. I am familiar with the arguments made here for curing homosexuality and while these techniques don't always work, they do work a lot proving that the question of homosexuality being genetic just isn't "the gospel" as many people claim. However, I'm not really sure what this has to do with her qualifications to be president. You'd have to look at her voting record, education etc. for that. Her views on homosexuality are a very minor consideration for 99% of Americans.

    July 13, 2011 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  15. mommazona

    As each day passes, it gets more and more interesting with this woman. And I don't mean that in a complimentary way. Good golly miss molly, what planet does this woman live on?

    July 13, 2011 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  16. Thor Beats Jesus Anyday

    I hope Rep. Bachmann wins the Republican nomination. Barry & co. would clean her clock.

    July 13, 2011 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  17. Eric

    So with counseling a straight person could also be turned into a gay person? Does anyone really believe that could be done?

    July 13, 2011 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  18. pritiblond

    Anyone else tired of gay psychiatrists dominating the media with their points of view? Homosexual acts are revolting and all the gay news service quoting gay psychiartrists doesn't change that.

    July 13, 2011 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  19. David Bogosian

    It's incredible that in the 21st century it has essentially become illegal for a psychiatrist to treat homosexuality as a mental illness, which for some people it actually is. There is plenty of evidence that people who are sexually abused at a young age can become confused about their sexual orientation later in life. Why shouldn't such people be given the option of seeking treatment? Fifty years from now the world is going to be appalled that society actually restricted care to people who wanted and needed it, simply because it was not politically correct to allow it.

    July 13, 2011 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  20. BeverlyNC

    The Bachmann Clinic does try to "cure" homosexuals and suggests using porn to change a gay man's view of a woman. This clinic also gets government subsidies to survive. Bachmann and her husband are "christian" nuts engaging in therapy they are not qualified to do and has been proven to not work and actually cause harm to the homosexual. All it adds is misery and denial to who a person really is.
    I think Bachmann's husband is gay and overcompensating wtih 5 children and a love-less marriage. Michelle has even said she never wanted to marry Marcus but "God told her to". Maybe she thought it was her job to reform him.
    Who knows with these two? They are ignorant extremists who take government handouts and then crticize the government for giving them.
    Bachmann is no leader. With all her years in Congress she has never introduced ANY legislation. She just takes up space while spewing her extremist views, hate for anyone different from her, and lies about the issues. If she cannot even remember the most basic parts of our American history, how can she be trusted to understand the issues she rambles on about?
    Investigate her clinic and her husband's past. She is not what she pretends to be.

    July 13, 2011 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  21. Protect us from evil

    You have to really wonder about Minnesotans' that they elected her. If she gets anywhere near the White House, we might as well declare our country theocracy. Give me a social liberal AND fiscal conservative Republican then you get my vote. We are not in Salem anymore Toto, er Bachmann!

    July 13, 2011 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  22. buckup

    "I think you clearly say 'what is the understanding of God's word on homosexuality,'"
    What is his position on pork and pork farmers? still capital punishment for all of it?

    July 13, 2011 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  23. MrPragmatic

    I've been following this story for several weeks now. It's simply amazing that a man who is quite obviously gay (Marcus Bachmann) is running a pray-the-gay-away clinic.
    What this article neglected to mention is the mountain of money the "clinic" collects each year in Medicare/Medicaid payments. Isn't Michele Bachmann angling to wipe out those programs?
    Finally, the article here doesn't address the fact that no one has yet been able to verify that Marcus Bachmann is actually a doctor. We already know he's NOT a licensed psychologist in Minnesota, but there are no records of what his "doctoral" degree is actually in. But to refer to Marcus Bachmann as a "doctor" of any stripe appears to be a stretch. Other than that, they seem to be running a tidy little business.

    July 13, 2011 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  24. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    All Republicans need to sign a pledge to attend treatment at Bachmanns clinic!!

    July 13, 2011 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  25. CBR

    Michele Bachmann seems to have all of the answers to all of the problems this country is facing. There is one problem though, she is not using facts to back up her statements. When she tries to do so she winds up giving incorrect information. Her lack of knowledge of U.S. history certainly is should show those who think our youth do not know about the history of the U.S. cringe. The truth is that most Americans do not have a full grasp of history. However they should know where to get the information they need from credible sources. Ms. Bachmann should do the same.

    July 13, 2011 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
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