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. Jiggetty

    Whether I think she/they are right or wrong is moot in my point of view. I'm just happy to see someone standing on their morals and sticking with it. Tired of the media getting a hold on someones views and demanding apologies, it's their view and they are entitled to it. If its not your cup of tea then don't vote for her, but people that demand she change her mind because it's not the PC, popular, or not their beliefs, are doing the same thing to them that they are arguing for. THE RIGHT TO HAVE YOU OWN DAMN OPINION.

    July 13, 2011 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  2. Bill Brasky!!!!

    I certainly hope so.

    July 13, 2011 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  3. scndnv

    So voting for her would be politically incorrect?

    July 13, 2011 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  4. Dan Watson

    There was just a study released showing a genetic difference between str8 and lesbian women. How are you going to continue to justify doing this to my people. If you wanna go tit for tat, we need to go ahead and open a private rehab clinic for the hetero plague that has swept the world. Str8 breeds H8.

    July 13, 2011 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  5. Kristina in Canada

    She doesnt and cannot change a persons sexual orientation. What she has accomplished is instilling the fear of God in young people to make them feel its wrong. Shame on you Michele. And shame on every other ignorant person who thinks like you.

    July 13, 2011 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  6. Cardog

    And there are people that believe this woman is capable of being president of the United States? Michelle Bachmann actually believes that she talks to God and God tells her what to do about almost everything??? She says that God told her to become a lawyer even though she did not want to be a lawyer. God told her to marry Dr. Bachmann, even though she did not like or love Dr. Bachmann???
    And now we all know that these two people are religious fundamentalists, and the good doctor runs a therapy clinic that claims to be able to make gay people straight???
    Is it just me, or can anyone else see these people for the nut jobs they are???

    July 13, 2011 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  7. Joe3

    "They can do whatever they want, and call it whatever they want." – Ron Paul

    July 13, 2011 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  8. Mitch

    This makes me slightly sick. For someone running for Presidency of one of the greatest countries in the World, which is supposed to be open and equal for everyone, I find this very disheartening. To think that she wants to run this country, when clearly she doesn't understand the Country that she is living in!

    July 13, 2011 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  9. Brian M, Seattle, WA, USA

    In my opinion, Michele Bachmann's just another fundamental extremist; playing God and using the system, illegally, for her personal gains. Can you imagine her as president of the United States? Wasn't it bad enough with the Cheney/Bush Dictatorship? Actually, I hope the Republicans nominate her, as doing so will be a sure win for Obama. As far as Marcus Bachmann's concerned, I can see why the whole gay issue's a threat to him, as he's obviously in the closet and running from who he really is, gay, or why would being gay be such an issue for him. People who are at peace with themselves typically aren't concerned with who others are, unless they're running from themselves and need a diversion to hide their truth. To Michele and Marcus Bachmann, quit playing God, get help and pray your hate away.

    July 13, 2011 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  10. Harald Schmidt

    To me "God" created everything, there is no scope of understanding on the human level,
    who "GOD" is. god and jesus created by religious idologs called the 'bible" for whatever
    the reason, are both hateful & devisive. Anyone who stands behind the "BIBLE"
    for reason of sincere love & well being of all mankind, regardles of religion, believe, race,
    gender, or sexual orientation have alll my blessing. Any persons who critizices "GODS"
    creation are truly the scourge (BURN AND SLASH republicans) that includes HATEFULL
    michelle bachmann. She truly embodies the UNCARING REPUBLICAN party attitud towards
    all little people. LINCOLN, founder of the republican party, WHO DOES NOT REPRESENT
    THE republican party OF TODAY, once said "GOD BLESSES THE POOR PEOPLE SINCE
    GOD MADE SO MANY OF THEM".

    July 13, 2011 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  11. Kyle

    The Bachmann's are mentally ill and Michele is clearly unfit to be a president of a country that is anything other than white heterosexual Christians.

    July 13, 2011 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  12. Art Acosta

    Yes this job creation, how did it come about, with federal funding, I am sure.
    How hypocrital is that!

    July 13, 2011 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  13. Jubril

    I would vote for Bachmann , would choose a good christian over any other politician (I am not a christian) but we all share in the same beliefs

    July 13, 2011 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  14. CAKE

    All therapy is reparative thereapy! As a licensed professional, a client comes to me because they want to change a behavior. It is my job to help them make the change they desire. It is never my job to choose for the client, so if they do not want to change a behavior, we don't work on changing that! It is that simple! The client never loses their right to come to appointments or not, to do the homework or not, to change or not. Many clients don't change appreciably during treatment......that is their choice. Licensed professionals do not accept patients dragged by someone else to therapy ( unless it is court ordered...a whole different deal).

    July 13, 2011 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  15. Mike H.

    Can we accept the fact that Michele Bachmann is not a serious candidate for the presidency? She may be a goddess to the tea party folks but to rational Americans she is clearly not prepared to hold the nation's highest office.

    July 13, 2011 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  16. Hmmm...

    Good for her for sticking to her beliefs. I wouldn't want someone who's willing to sell out their beliefs as a President anyways.

    Also, if you want to be gay, you shouldn't be at a Christian counselor's office. The Bible's pretty clear on the subject.

    July 13, 2011 04:37 am at 4:37 am |
  17. Kris Wood

    Drop in the bucket of what's to come, I'm sure.

    July 13, 2011 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  18. Henry

    Reparative Therapy has almost as much validity as bleeding to balance the humors. The guy who came up with it was kicked out of the APA twice for falsify research outcomes.

    July 13, 2011 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  19. John C

    This is completely absurd! What evidence is there that Gays/ Lesbians CANNOT change? I know for a fact that through good solid counciling this can be done!

    July 13, 2011 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  20. ophu

    While I'm sure it takes talent to make a business out of trying to fit square pegs into round holes, I just don't feel it's relevant or cost-effective. I hope this business of ramming square pegs in round holes is not being subsidised by the feds.

    July 13, 2011 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  21. Doug

    I have been saying all along that the teaparty is really a front for the right to life party. This story fits right in. American Talibanism complete with a Mental Health facility to help correct you in siberia, (Minnesota). Yep, just what this country needs. I was wondering where Micheles far away stare came from. These people are gonzo. Doug.

    July 13, 2011 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  22. New Englander

    Well this just sunk her little political rowboat! At least we won't have to listen to her drivel for the next year.

    July 13, 2011 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  23. AntiPalinAlaskan

    In a decent country, this would end Bachmann's campaign. Here, it may not matter at all.

    and..."barbarians"?...oy vey...

    July 13, 2011 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  24. Bosco56

    "Marcus Bachmann has suggested parents of gay teenagers can turn to religion for help."
    Because we all know that religion has also turned away hurricanes, tornadoes, helped millions win the lottery and brought dead relatives back to life. Religion from the people who brought you the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials.

    July 13, 2011 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  25. Slash

    Wow, I'm really surprised. A Republican candidate supporting barbaric, bigoted, long-debunked garbage? No way! Next you'll be telling me that these allegedly conservative people also support the government telling American citizens who they can and cannot marry and what they can and cannot do with their bodies!

    July 13, 2011 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
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