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. andrew peter

    Natural man will, by all means, grope after his own desires, until he obtains them or di-es trying. Outside of God's work by the Ho-ly Spi-rit, "Reparative Therapy" is only legalistic means to achieve outward results, while no inward change has occurred.

    July 13, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. Futon Torpedo

    Maybe her husband should use their own therapy.

    July 13, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. Linda

    Don't like gay marriages? Don't get one.. Don't like cigarettes? Don't smoke them.. Don't like abortions? Don't get one.. Don't like sex? Don't have it.. Don't like drugs? Don't do them.. Don't like porn? Don't watch it.. Don't like alcohol? Don't drink it.. Don't like guns? Don't buy one.. Don't… like your rights taken away??? Don't take away someone else's.

    July 13, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. JackT

    While not as bad as the current Socialist that we have in the White House, or the Drunk, War Monger that we had before him, I could NEVER vote for a quack with a clinic like this!!! I WAS interested in her views. But, after seeing this nonsense, I am done.

    July 13, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Chris

    I'm immediately skeptical of anyone who is so vehemently anti-gay that they make a public life out of it. They usually turn out to be closet homosexuals who can't deal with it. So, my bet is that Mr. Bachmann is a fannybandit.

    July 13, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Dj

    What am I missing here people ? According to polls, she is leading the Iowa GOP primary...Iowa was one of the first states that passed gay marriages...Are the polss misleading ?

    July 13, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Beer Drinker

    This lady really, really scares me. And I don't scare easily.

    July 13, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. GeorgeBos95

    "Atul Chaudhary" you're hilarious. Your argument is a thinly veiled claim that the religious view is the "right" one. Hardly. If you don't like the fact that people are gay, too frickin' bad. I couldn't care less about your religious views, until they infringe on my – or anyone else's – right to live in peace in the manner they choose.

    As for Bachmann, I suspect we're in for more hilarity, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness from her in the coming months. She may have good poll numbers right noiw, but all that's going to do is attract the spotlight of attention.

    Either she won't survive the early primaries, or she will take down the Republicans. Either way, I'm pulling up a chair, getting a big bag of popcorn, and enjoying the entertainment.

    July 13, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  9. Vern

    My question is, how about a cure for Bachmann. If she can cure something genetic, she should be able to walk on water. I"M WAITING! yet more evangelical trash. and I agree with Katy Mae

    July 13, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. The Jackdaw

    The kind of person that believes that homos3xuality is a disease that needs to be cured is the exact kind of person that we do NOT need in the government.

    July 13, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. 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 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. chris

    homosexuality is a condition just like liberalism so maybe we need clinics to "cure" left wing radicals. I mean we definitely need them. Maybe....thats funny.

    July 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. The Jackdaw

    The kind of person that believes that h0m0s3xuality is a disease that needs to be cured is the exact kind of person that we do NOT need in the government.

    July 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. Kwesoe

    And ye shall know the Truth, and the truth shall set thee free. Well, Michelle, tell me some of those lies of yours and make me think about the truth.

    July 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Joe M.

    I'm no Bachmann supporter, but it's more business experience than Obama ever had.

    No, he had more experience helping to run a non-profit, but its also irrelevant to the topic at hand. She and her husband ran a business which promoted a form of "therapy" deemed unethical and dangerous by the AMA, and would appear to violate any number of ethical standards in Mr. Bachmann's profession. Also, the fact she took the money and then proceded to spin how it was used is also disturbing, espcially since it looks like she was less than forthcoming about what was going on. If she is a tax attorney, she should know the damage that can cause a business and a reputation. She comes across as ammoral and a hypocrite.

    July 13, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Polemos

    So I finished reading this article and I'm still waiting for evidence of Bachmann's "controversial" therapy methods. Maybe I simply misunderstood the article's tone, but I assumed by "controversial" the author meant something like "offensive" or "harmful." Even so, it's not clear to me how prayer (meditation) and celibacy advice are especially controversial methods of therapy.

    July 13, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 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 same-gender 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 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Bachmann has embellished her credentials too much and there is always a price to pay for that. She needs to keep it real because running for President she should know you're checked out starting with the bottom of your foot.

    July 13, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. jimbo

    I support the base principles of the republican party but when religious nuts like this come into play I get frustrated. These religious zealots are going to be the downfall of the GOP. I'm in my late 20s and issues like gay marriage, marijuana legalization, abortion are not my top priorities to regulate. My generation can see straight thru the smoke and mirros, the GOP campaings on small government and less intrusion in our lives by big goverment but at the same time wants to restrict many citizens with their social agendas. They need to change their ways or they will be gone in the next decade.

    July 13, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. Alec H

    "Joe M. – I'm no Bachmann supporter, but it's more business experience than Obama ever had.
    July 12, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |"

    Wasn't sure there was anyway to take at shot at Obama in this write up, thx for setting us all "straight"

    July 13, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. Linda

    The Bachman's never said that "gays" are lesser people than us! This is what is something noone else brings out, is that the ones that support this lifestyle (not the same as being black or ethnic) are some of the meanest people out there. The hateful rhetoric is horrible. It is through love of these people that these therephies are out there. The bible is correct on what it states many times about how wrong this life style is and we are called, through love to tell those whom we love about it.

    July 13, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. Elle

    I am so glad to see my fellow citizens standing up here to this travesty. Going after gays like that makes Bachmann seem very 1930s Germany. "Barbarians!!!?" We Americans have to definitively reject the Bachmanns and drum them from the presidential race and the media. She is dangerously stupid; what's scary is how many people follow and admire her. This is the Achilles heel of democracy: that a majority can be hornswoggled into embracing a bigoted or otherwise crazy agenda. That's why we have to use our votes to prevent her and her backers from getting even a whiff of victory. The potential for oppression and worse is high.

    July 13, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. disco_fever

    I guess I don't see the problem with offering help to those that want it. No one is forcing gays into these things, but they are there for them if they choose to go. And believe it or not some gays DO want to change. And there is a problem somehow with that? People want to change things about themselves all the time (even things they were born with), what is so differernt about this? There are plenty of traditional Christian gays who have a hard time with their sexual orientation and their religion, and some choose to change religions and some choose to try and change their orientation. Get over it.

    July 13, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Pras ASKED:
    What's wrong with treating Gays who want to become straight? It's freedom of choice for some Gays which can't be denied. So is Mr. Bachmann's freedom to do so. Leftist Media is trying to make it sound abnormal and unusual.
    The answer to your question is nothing. The issue isn't working to "help" gay people. The issue is that they denied that that is what they do.

    July 13, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. Rob R

    I really hope she wins the nomination. I can't wait to see all the negative ads against her. Might need to get some popcorn for it.

    July 13, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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