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. guettlerj220

    this is sickening, and this woman wants to lead our country? instead of going forward go backwards? I hope people know most Minnesotans are nothing like this, and most of us are ashamed that the Bachmanns are representing our state in the national arena.

    That being said, maybe one day THEY will both heal the hate in their hearts they have for homosexuals and learn the beauty of acceptance.

    July 13, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Aezel

    "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.

    I love the fear mongering with gay marriage. Many states already allow it, and nothing anywhere remotely close to this happened, but the Republicans just keep saying it. I think it's the Republicans that have some sick sexual fantasy about group marriage and bestiality that they keep feeling the need to bring up.

    July 13, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. NOYB

    America was built on the concept of 'freedom'. This woman needs to look that up in the dictionary.

    July 13, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Grrry D

    Ah, yes...more idiocy from our very own version of the Taliban. Bachman is an American embarrassment and nothing more. I love the "When our bogus "counseling" doesn't work, just stop being gay and pray a lot." I wonder how much she charges for that little gem of advice?

    July 13, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. Rocky

    God forbid one of her kids turn out to be gay. Then she will know what it feels like.

    July 13, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. kyle

    Probably getting those intruding goverment dollars too.

    July 13, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. Philojazz

    "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."

    Concerning Mr Bachmann's statements above, first of all, there is NO understanding of God's word on homosexuality, for the simple reason that he/she doesn't exist. Or, if he/she does, there is no rational reason to think that anyone has access to his/her "word".
    More importantly, however, Mr Bachmann is 100% correct about barbarians having to be educated! I propose that he begin with his wife and himself, and begin to be productive, intelligent, and rational citizens of what is still (despite the misguided attempts of people like themselves) the greatest country on earth.
    One final thought...if you DO believe in God, start praying with all your effort that Mrs Bachmann is NOT elected president!!

    July 13, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. DJ in TX

    I have no problem with a "Christian" clinic. Treating someone with real issues using Christian theology is OK. But leave the homosexual stuff out of it. Preach God's word and then the person has to make their own "choice". The one thing that God did all of us is "choice". We can choose to believe in Him and His word, or not. My Christianity also won't allow me to call a homosexual a "barbarian" as Mr. Bachmann puts it. I'm not telling social conservatives to stop their beliefs, but you do need stop trying to "force" your beliefs on others. Again, we are to minister God's word to others, but they have to make the choice to follow or not. We can't make that choice for them, or force them either. God owns the laws for morality, not man. And he alone will be the judge when the time comes. Let's worry about our own lives, try to help others, after that, it's up to them.

    This why I could not support Ms. Bachmann for president. She would try to force her views on everyone, vs just letting people lead their own lives and let God deal with them on judgment day.

    July 13, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. SaintM

    Dear Michelle Bachmann, you will not be the first woman president. Hilary Clinton will be–in 2016 – after the current president completes his second term. Your dip stick world view is the laughing stock of the country just like your evil twin Sarah Palin's. Go ahead and continue your quest to obtain a position that you have no chance of winning. Go back to your bible-beating "counseling" clinic with your husband and leave the sane, intelligent people alone.

    July 13, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. Jaywing

    Ever notice that Bachmann NEVER aswers a direct question. She always dodges and deflects and tries to change the subject. This is, or should be, a huge RED FLAG to the electorate. She's obviously hiding something, and in most cases I believe it's her own stupidity. All she can do is bark her taking points, and when confronted with real questions of serious import, she gets her 'deer in the headlights' look and babbles on as if the question was never asked. And if the teabagging crowd is behind her, what does that say about them? Are they all simply delusional?

    July 13, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. bluedogboy

    How did this woman win public office in the first place?

    July 13, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Orchid333

    I didn't think anyone could top Sarah Palin... but yeah, this woman puts her to shame. Bachmann, you are absolutely ridiculous and belong in a nut house, not the white house. Have fun spending money on your losing battle.

    July 13, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. Brad

    She can take her bible and shove it where the sun don't shine. along with all the other religiouse nuts trying to force their ways on me. You wanna be gay, be gay, you wanna be straight be straight, you like BDSM do BDSM. You want 50 wives, your nuts but go for it. Who does this government think it is telling adults what they can and cannot do just because their myth, fairy tale piece of crap God says so. And if my fealings about your God offend you, who cares, you have been offending non-believers for centuries.

    July 13, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Tony

    Seriously? This is the candidate that the Tea Party is backing? A religious nut who wants to "cure" homosexuality? And here I thought the Nazi movement ended after WW II. It has been psychologically and scientifically proven that homosexuality is more than a "preference", hence the term Orientation. Hopefully she will not recieve the GOP nomination at the Primaries.

    July 13, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Josh

    Sigh.. Instead of trying to make people "normal", how about you use some of that christian tolerance that Jesus spoke of and just accept people. There is really only one direct verse about homosexuality in the bible, and that's Paul's letter to Romans where he condemns same sex acts. But you have to read the whole thing, to see that he's talking about having sex for sex, and being shameful with it. Sex orgies with everyone is what he was condemning, because the act of sex should revolve around love.

    But if you want to take this even further, if God is so against homosexuality, then why does it exist in the animal kingdom? Why do groups of female gorillas turn to lesbianism when the male is away? Why do giraffes have huge lesbian population? Or sea gulls? Or dolphins? You'd think that if homosexuality was so wrong, we wouldn't be seeing it at all in beings that have no choice.

    July 13, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Rob

    These people are dangerous to this country. If someone is "gay", why try to change that? That is how God made then, and changing that would be going against God. How many "ex" gays have to kill themselves before the message is understood?

    July 13, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Alex

    Jesus on a breadstick, when is this woman going to shut up alread?

    July 13, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. dede

    This whole issue with Bachman should be sounding alarm bells loudly and very clearly to her constituents of Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, and to all in general. This woman supports and actively asserts, either through her own words or through those of her husband, that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered (GLBT) are "barbarians, and be 'cured' of being the people we are." Maybe I should start a clinic to "cure" right-wing tea party Republicans of their "illness." I am surprised she hasn't come right out to say we should be shot on sight. This is someone who has no business whatsoever being in the political arena. I hope people realize this and vote against her when she comes up for re-election, and that she continues to go nowhere with her aspirations for the presidency. Her words and positions with regard to the GLBT community are appalling.

    July 13, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. David A. Rash

    I am not a Bachmann supporter. I vote Democratic. But I believe we ought to let God be God and let men and women work out their relationship with God as they choose. If there are persons who confess they are not comfortable with being gay/lesbian and they wish to change or to live in abstinence, we ought to trust their integrity. We should not be saying 'God cannot do this or that.' Pundits should't be telling what God can and cannot do.

    July 13, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. We the people means everyone

    Just because you disagree with gay people, doesn't mean you should push your "values" on others which could potentially hurt them.

    July 13, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. RaKa

    That was so thoughtful of Bachmann to offer this program. At least she reached out to help the gay community. I can remember just a few years back when being homosexual was diagnosed as a mental disorder. Then when the psychiatrist were bullied by the pc police they backed down. It would be nice to have professionals treat gays according to a scientific diagnosis instead of hollywood's

    July 13, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Dave

    OMG SO typical of a republican SCAM! The husband ( gay as $3 bill) takes government money to run his phony clinic, and the wife, running for president, says CUT medi-cal. The real insult is that Marcus Bachmann is playing god, and with our tax money. There is absolutely no real evidence that being gay needs curing and is no longer considered ill to begin with. Unless you are an uneducated bible thumping idiot. Bachmann walks gay, talks gay, and all their kids are adopted. Whats wrong with this picture? Duh

    July 13, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. Jim

    The "Party" and Self-Righteous Christians will soon be able to cure you of many other ailments. 1-Flexibility 2-Empathy 3-Left-leaning Political Views 4-Individual Thinking and many other issues not approved by the "Party", so step right up and fill you cup with their brand of Kool-Aid.

    July 13, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. Lindsey

    If Michele Bachmann and her extremist Christian ilk ever gain real power in this country, their goal is to criminalize homosexuality by making "sodomy" illegal, punishable by imprisonment. This is "small government"? Erm....I don't think so!

    July 13, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. Ren

    Holley ..Toledo ..this woman..has a cure for gays..can we stop..her..please..this will cause such a rift..between..people..we all are one people..why..again..the gay issue..talk about jobs...talk about..keeping our money here in the USA...people are starving..have no homes..talk about that..the fallen of housing prices..people out of work..find a Cure for that..and then talk..about this...such garbage...fix the things that we all care about...food housing..money...shut up..unless that is what u ar going to talk..about...get it..

    July 13, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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