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. Kevin O

    This is not news as her husband is so utterly insignificant (or small...literally) in all accounts. What should be noted is Michelle signed off on a certain piece of lit which compared a child in a same sex family being worse off than a child born into slavery. From what I understand she later recanted because "she didn't read thru all the materials before signing off on it". IMHO this is the news that matters for someone who is vying for a presidential run.

    July 13, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. Alex

    How is discussing specific treatments a violation of patient's privacy? As long as you don't mention them by name, there is nothing wrong with saying "We treated patient X through therapies such as counseling and yoga". It seems to me that this is simply an excuse to hide what they were really doing.

    July 13, 2011 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. rob

    Bachmann is a piece of work.

    July 13, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. phil bowman

    I have known many people that were supposly Gay that went straight. Once the darkness was exposed they saw the light. Many were forced into homosexual relationships and the darkness made them blind to the situation. Once the darkness was exposed they changed. Now I know this will fire up the 2% of the population that is GAY. The darkness will raise its ugly head when it is challanged.Never seen a baby born with a rainbow flag in its hand.................

    July 13, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  5. lynn

    Bachman's ideas are frightening and the public needs to see them for what they are, only self-serving for her teabagging cause. Less government and more for her and their plan. Snakes with forked tongues, that the media needs to expose.

    July 13, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. Tommy Boy

    Check your bible at the door Michelle. Freedom of Religion means ALL religions, but don't try to force your interpretation of any bible passage on everyone else. If someone is gay or lesbian, then so be it. Who the he11 are you or your husband to take up the cause to "cure" them? How about you visit my clinic....I "cure" people of being self-righteous, uptight, Holier-Than-Thou and pretentious. It, too, is controversial, but I use a number 36 Louisville Slugger.

    July 13, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Gloria

    Well, there goes tons of votes for MB in the Presidential race...Perhaps investigators should delve even more into the Bachmann's so-called clinic. Also, discussing the clinic practices is not the same thing as revealing patient information. In my opinion, that excuse not to answer questions is a huge cop-out.

    July 13, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. Frustrated Reader

    So if they say: "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.

    Then there should be no questions about what occurs at other doctors offices. They should not concern themselves with Plan Parenthood, which primarily provides medical services to women.

    July 13, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  9. Jim

    All turning to religion will do is create feelings of guilt and anxiety. And that road leads to depression, and even suicide. So, no thanks, "Dr" Bachman. While I am not gay, I do know people who are, and it's cruel and unusual to make them feel guilty for being different.

    July 13, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. Roland

    LOL. Wow background check anyone. Small business creator. More like Mall of store front preachers. This is hilarious.

    July 13, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  11. Ray from Bisbee, AZ

    For crying out loud, it would surprise me if they didn't engage in such nonsense!

    July 13, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. Quit the Hate

    And this is the front-runner for the GOP Presidential candidate? It is getting frightening how Republicans are not longer interested in presenting a campaign platform to oppose their Democratic rivals political views. Instead they are declaring a moral war on anyone who doesn't fit into their narrow box of acceptable behavior. I thought this was a country of "All the people". That means as President, you have to be respectful and represent EVERYONE's rights, not just the ones you like or that agree with your religious beliefs. We are in for a long, weary year of campaigning. I'm tired of it already.

    July 13, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. fideauxdon

    If someone could "cure" the Bachmanns, the world would be a better place to live.

    July 13, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. OU812IC

    We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined
    That statement right there alone, is enough to show this person is got something wrong with her mind, does she think shes some charactor in a Medieval video game. Over the years I have found that most people I have come across who are very vocal about/against Homosexuality or Lesbianism are that way because they are trying to hide and not accept the fact that they themselves are, but in there minds for whatever reason may it be parents, church etc. they cannot and will not accept it, so instead they become bashers, self proclaimed crusaders and or fixers of this problem, they think it they can fix other people in some way maybe it will fix themselves in the process

    July 13, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. DesertRed

    Disingenuous of her to avoid questions on a major philosophical issue that is a fundamental part of her political agenda.

    July 13, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Truefax

    Just come by her 'clinic' and she'll 'pray' with you, I almost bust a gut lmao. Snake oil salesmen running for president, I love it.

    July 13, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Adrian Snare

    That an dividual is "gay" , is IMO, not normal.
    How to fix ?
    Or must we fix....
    IMO, Bachmann is a fool to think that her "clinic" can "fix".
    However, I think she should be given a chance.
    We are dealing with human beings...
    Lets try love and tolerance.

    July 13, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. Adrian Snare

    I meant to write "individual"..

    July 13, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  19. JediMasterMatt

    I believe this woman's (Bachmann) campaign is much scarier and more dangerous than Sarah Palin could be....and the sad part is more people take her seriously! I want a President to run the country...NOT MY LIFE!!!

    July 13, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Madtown

    Mr. and Mrs. Bachmann could answer some of the questions regarding their practice, if they can specifically state the dates that they each made the decision to be heterosexual.

    July 13, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. dimitry

    she needs to go away just like palin

    July 13, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. Darron R. Brown, M.D.

    A clinic that receives substantial support from Medicaid should not expound a debunked theory (based on religious ideology) that homosexuality can be "cured" (as in a "disease". These people can, of course, provide such counseling to anyone who pays for it, but our tax dollars should not be spent on such idiocy. The hypocrisy of this situation is laughable.

    July 13, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. bcrunner

    And this woman wants to be president of the United States of America... all the people of the United States of America. She is pathetic!! And, job creation? What job creation? Not one single bill has been voted on job creation.

    July 13, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. SPA Knight

    Looks like the mud slinging has begun by the liberal left who want to destroy Bachmann right out of the gate. How pathetic. It's much easier to attack her personally than to have an honest debate about conservatism because it is based on the foundation of our nation. This is a sure sign that they fear that she can beat Obama in 2012.

    July 13, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. mako

    I doubt Bachmann can be cured of what ails her

    July 13, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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