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. GetReal

    Michelle: perhaps if you pray enough about it, God will turn you into a human being.

    July 13, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. barbara

    She just cooked her "presidential candidate" goose.

    July 13, 2011 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  3. Marco

    Wow! this lady keeps getting better and better! And by better and better I mean more and more horrible. What a terrible person she is.

    July 13, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. Melvin

    Looks like we are heading back in time, instead of going toward.

    July 13, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  5. John

    This hole family Is nothing but a bunch of fruitcake. Is this the kind of person you want to run are country. It sound to me the Family Is just taking people money and know they can't stop them from being gay. This Is how Michele Bachmann got her money and she proud of miss leading people and taking there money under false In tension.And she all say she proud of her job Creation , Than why don't you ask anybody In Minnesota about how many jobs she Creates. None.

    July 13, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  6. mike bell

    I heard that taking 2 aspirin every morning will cure homosexuality

    July 13, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. Golden Ruler

    If YOU were told that you must change your orientation could you? Would YOU want to? Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that adult, human relationships are way more complex than body parts and what we do with them. It's not some juvenile game, not some silly joke, and it's not about imposing your interpretation of your religion Ms Bachman (hmmm Sharia Rule?)... it's about human beings, and their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... unharassed, and committed to the person they love. It's not my business, and not your business what the gender is of the person my brother or sister falls in love with and has a committed relationship with, but it is my business to love them and have the same respect for their very human relationship as they do for mine. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you Ms Bachman.

    July 13, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. john locke

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

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

    July 13, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  9. pastmorm

    Bachmann is just another Hitler. She's a little too hung up on homosexuality to not have some issues herself. How could anyone want someone this crazy and scary as President of the USA? We need to get past our interest in crazy women like Palin and move on to elect REAL leaders. This country has become one big, bad reality program.

    July 13, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Perhaps this business of Bachmann and her husband is exactly the type of government-funded-subsidy spending Bachmann has been touting as so wasteful? Especially when taking into consideration that she has herself been collecting various government subsides her entire adult life, including (but certainly not limited to) being on the direct government employee payroll more years than not, I suspect this is the GOPer don't do as I do, do as I say rhetorical nonsense which so disgusts me. I'll leave her so called christianity (of which I have no doubt she thinks she is the epitome of christian goodness) for God to judge.

    July 13, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. Alyssa

    Fanatics like this don't deserve to be President to over 300 million very diverse people. I don't think Bachmann has a shot in hell, and hurts her party more than helps. She'll carry the fundamentalist vote, and that's it. There's no way she garners independent votes.

    July 13, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. Brian DC

    Who cares, the gays/lesbians aren't going to vote anything but Dem anyway. As the joke goes," how do you know when your partner is going to leave you? They vote Repub."

    July 13, 2011 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    I know I sound like a broken record when I reiterate: you CAN'T make up this stuff or these people folks!
    Lawdy, lawdy!!
    Obama 2012.

    July 13, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. Alex

    What a sham. Any licensed physician who includes religious mumbo-jumbo in their practice should lose their license.

    July 13, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. Mucklucky

    Mother nature has a cure... they can't reproduce.

    July 13, 2011 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  16. Concerned Voter

    Seriously?! Barbarians? Oh, no I'm 100% sure that I'm not voting for this hyper-religious nut job. Before I was only 99.99% sure. She truly believes that "God" is talking to her.

    July 13, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  17. Ari159

    This clinic seems more like a church than actual clinic. If these people are suggesting "reparative" therapy and religiious conversion to "help" people with their homosexual attractions, then this place should be rightfully called a church or some type of religious place and should not be collection thousands of dollars in Medicaid money.

    If their cure for it is "pray it away", file as a church with tax-exemption and don't waste tax payer money.

    July 13, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. Sniffit

    I don't care what else happens, Bachmann will never make me go straight.

    July 13, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  19. Rodney

    What a loser! First of all, people are born gay! It's not something you learn to do as a child. It's just sick that anyone thinks that. Secondly, there is no such thing as God. Remember the Greeks believed in Gods and those turned out to be false. The Romans believed in Gods and those are false. Now Christians believe and worship in a God and one day will be determined to be false. Our ancestors hundreds of years from now will be laughing at us because people believed in this imaginary thing. Religious people need to watch The Science Channel. We can see a more realistic theory on how the Earth was created rather than the theory that someone just blinked an eye and suddenly the Earth appeared. It makes me sick to live in such a place where people allow an imaginary being to dictate their entire life. When you die, your body will rot just like the rest of us. Science has explored billions of miles into the universe and there is no such place as heaven has been found.

    July 13, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  20. David Price

    I wish people would quit trying to change something you can't change. Your born gay, end of story. Spend your time working on things like global hunger, ending middle east issues and global warming. These are real issues. Being gay is not one of them.

    If you're so insecure that you feel you need to "fix" us, then perhaps YOU need therapy!

    July 13, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Chas in Iowa

    She put a small business together and put her husband in the lead councelors place to teach people how to be straight and pull down big profits by gay bashing?
    She ought to run for President,.....oh yeah,....she is.

    July 13, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. screen

    "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."

    What opponents to gay civil rights fail to realize is that this slippery slope of theirs starts with opposite-sex marriage. The above could easily read, "If we allow heterosexual marriage to happen, gay marriage, group marriage, polygamy, and much worse . . ."

    July 13, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. Grady

    Sooner or later people are going to see that this person is not fit to manage our country.

    July 13, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  24. boyamidumb

    My God how can anyone take this person seriously about anything.

    A Palin/Bachman ticket. Dumb and Dumber in the Whitehouse.

    July 13, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  25. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    I think her husband is a psychologist. But what I want to know is, if they are trying to "pray away the gay" with government grants...is this where my tax dollars go? Proud parent of a gay son!

    July 13, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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