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. Jonline

    The woman is clearly not stable. Cher tweeted something like 'she doesn't even know her own husband is gay.' The whole gay reparative therapy is really weird. Hate us; love us or leave us alone.

    July 13, 2011 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  2. johnmenacherjr

    One can only wonder how many tax dollars have been spent on this little disgusting operation. Being gay is just one more thing in life. Bachman simply preys upon it. I am sure she smells fear the way a shark smells blood. Simply disgusting! Simply Republican ,can't create any jobs or help anyone but sure can intrude into everyones personal life!

    July 13, 2011 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  3. Marie MD

    "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." Is this what marcus thinks has worked for him? Try harder big boy!
    This is the best line of the interview because these two and their "religious" beliefs about homosexuality and anything else that has to do with a person's rights is my/their own!! "The Bachmann's are in no position ethically, legally, or morally to discuss" ANYTHING WITH ANYONE WHILE PUSHING THEIR RELIGION AND VISIONS ON OTHERS!!
    BTW – slave children did NOT have it better in the 1860s, you flake. Anyone with their "two parent" family could have been sold at any time with no regard to that family. The child might also have been the plantation's owners kid. Then again, you do live in the ugly past!

    July 13, 2011 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  4. unretired05

    And Medicare/Medicaid pays for this?

    July 13, 2011 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  5. Beth

    She's really scary. Just as these religious right folks don't want to have to live under the laws of other religions (all that fear of Sharia Law stuff)... guess what? We don't want to live under your religion laws either! I thought you guys didn't want the govt. telling American's what to do or how to live. Oh that's right, its ok if its agrees with YOUR interpretation of what's right. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

    July 13, 2011 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  6. Jason, Chicago IL

    Ladies and gentlemen, your next President of the United States!

    July 13, 2011 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  7. teapartylover

    A vote for Bachmann is a clearly a DUH WINNING vote. She has tiger blood in her...not

    July 13, 2011 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  8. Whammybar

    She's done.............next!

    July 13, 2011 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  9. Jim

    We've come to the place where "professionals" have convinced a seemingly majority of the population that homosexuality is "normal behavior". It is my opinion that these professionals have just given up because the condition is so hard to treat or we just don't know how best to treat it. What next? Are murderers, rapists, spouse abusers "predisposed" to hat behavior? I applaud the Bachmann's if indeed they do try to help those who elect try to change their behavior.

    July 13, 2011 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  10. MAngeline

    Now, would the "real" Michele Bachmann please will step forward! Her insane views will now start to emerge. Scary thing is she really truly believes what she says. This "pray the gay away" is just the tip of the iceberg. She will probably be #1 or #2 in Iowa because of the overwhelmingly Christian conservative views of the straw poll participants, but she will never play well in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic areas. Don't think there's a chance she'll be the nominee, and I can't imagine anyone being dumb enough to place her on the ticket as #2.

    July 13, 2011 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  11. Curt Collier

    Bachman simply does not get it (no surprise there). She says she's simply running for president but what her business does has nothing to do with her political stance. But how can that be true? Is she saying that her internal beliefs about the ways others lead their lives won't impact her policy directions? That's like saying Hitler's hatred of the Jews shouldn't have impacted how he ran Germany. This woman is dangerous, not only for gays in America, but for a huge swath of the population she deems "undesirable."

    July 13, 2011 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  12. Stephanie Palmer

    Why are the Bachmann's so interested in other people's sex lives? I did read that there was a suggestion that a homosexual live a life of celibacy. I notice that Mr. Bachmann has never tried that, what with his 5 children. He really has never tried. Why is my tax money being paid out to a clinic that uses a practice not only not known to work but to potentially do harm? Does that make sense to anyone?

    July 13, 2011 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  13. Larry

    I'm a conservative libertarian. This moral legislation is the one reason the GOP tend to lose. The majority of the American people IMO are fiscal conservatives and social libertarians. They could care less what a person does in his/her private life as long as it has no bering on theirs. What we can all agree on is that the economy is in shambles. We have high debt, foreign wars, low consumer confidence and these supposed small government conservatives are interested in personal matters such as gay marriage and abortion. Where has the GOP gone wrong? You can never legislate morality. Morality is fluid.

    July 13, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  14. R.G.M.

    Isn't it odd that people will wait years to tell about bad news just in case it might come in handy to derail someone else. Come on people, if it was that bad back then then you should have reported it immediately. Just because your political views are different does not mean you should try to undermine a candidate who is different. Why cannot politics and elections be more of facts andhonesty rather than mud slinging and fear tactics which both parties are guilty of?

    July 13, 2011 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  15. ellie

    So much hate.. People are different, they like and practice different things, and if it's not harming another person we should accept it. You don't have to embrace it or encourage it, but condemning and judging is not your right.

    July 13, 2011 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  16. seesaw

    When I grew up in the 1940 -1950 homosexuality did not exist. The American Psychiatric Association considered it a mental illness and if a person admitted to being gay he or she was shunned, beaten up, ridiculed etc. They best thing a gay person could do was remain very low key.

    All these years later about half the population supports gay marriage or unions. However, we still have some who think being gay is a choice, a perversion, straying from God's path. In my opinion, if someone is gay, so what and who cares. I'd rather live next door to some gay couple than some fundamentalist, extremist Christians who want to convert everyone. I had to overcome a lot of prejudicial and stereotypical thinking about gays throughout the years. The world becomes a better place when we just accept one another differences.

    July 13, 2011 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  17. RON4152

    Kind of reminds me of Muslims. The answers are in the bible but each religion has its own bible.
    My experience in life for over 70 years convinces me that Gays are born "wired" that way.
    I get very nervous when people start quoting the bible to justify their beliefs. Seems to me that on 9/11 there was a group that acted on the beliefs that came from their bible.

    July 13, 2011 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  18. Stephen

    There goes the gay vote.

    July 13, 2011 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  19. Rodel

    This mess is out of hand... now we have a presidential candidate who not only does not like gays she is apart of a clinic that actually practices reparative therapy which is not only known NOT TO WORK, but can be just as damaging... Thanks but no thanks i don't like people like her or people who attempt to hide their bigotry behind "no comment". SMH what is the republicans doing i mean seriously are there any real canadidates

    July 13, 2011 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  20. jeff t

    How are the Bachman's getting these gays into their therapy? Are they rounding them up? This doens't make sense to me. If a person doesn't want to be gay, where else would he/she go for help? A hospital? How is it if you're a man wanting to be a woman, or a woman wanting to be a man, you can find all kinds of help and support to change. But if you're gay and want to be straight it's a huge no-no? I doubt any gay people would be upset if there was therapy for straight people wanting to become gay.

    July 13, 2011 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  21. CBinKY

    Is this in the least bit surprising when she has previously compared gay and lesbians to barbarians. Quite to the contrary, I would say she is the barbarian, wielding a KJV of the bible as her big club. I shudder to think of the number of teens that her husband's "companies" have harmed under the guise of "christian love". Isn't it funny that when Christian's like these tell you your life is wrong, it is called love – but when you return the favor, it is called persecution.

    July 13, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  22. Chris Willett

    "We have to understand barbarians need to be educated." – Marcus Bachmann

    Religious fundamentalists need to take a hard look in the mirror.

    July 13, 2011 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  23. retphxfire

    If Democrats want a gtd win they should be sending contributions to Bachmann's campaign. I thought Sarah Palin was the most 'confused' campaigner ever, now I give that title to Michelle Bachman. I feel sorry for people who profess to be such good people, only to prove time and again that they are only 'good' to and about people or ideas they agree with or like. If you aren't Christian, are a minority, gay, have children with no father (whether through no marriage, divorce, abandonment), are very, very young or very, very old, need help with health care (don't you love how they want to now penalize the 'righteous' women who were stay-at-home moms), don't want to see our country become a dead-beat bill payer – imagine THOSE call from a collection agency -, just plain want to care for the most vulnerable and needy in our country, then you are the enemy and Unamerican. I believe Bachmann and her true believers are as about unpatriotic and anti-Constitutional as anyone can be, they also have no real knowledge of our 'founding fathers' beliefs and determination for the country. How many have actually read the Constitution, Declaration of Independence or anything about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock...etal?

    July 13, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  24. oldguy

    What scares me more than Michele Bachmann herself is the fact that she actually has a support base. Listening to her would be entertaining if it weren't for the fact that there are actually too many voting citizens who take her serioiusly.

    That's what scares me....that anyone could actually consider her suitable to be the President of the United States.

    July 13, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  25. Josecuervo

    Homosexuality is a choice, nothing more.

    July 13, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
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