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. Bob

    Ah, someone finally quoted the 10% number.

    Let me ask you this: If 10% of our population has *any* particular attribute, isn't that a large enough number to make it a normal part of the human experience? Or should all the color-blind men in the US (10% of the population) or left-handed people (10% of the population) be "cured" too?

    So if 10% of the population is gay, I say it's part of being human, by nature, and we should be accepting of that.

    July 13, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. SCAtheist

    Federal dollars are going to this place? Disgusting!

    July 13, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. KBNJ

    I'm straight, but I can't tell you if it's genes or environment any more than anyone else can. If someone wants therapy to change, why should it be unethical to provide it? Obviously, therapists shouldn't be pushing clients to change their orientation, but the undercover guy didn't get that – he got the opposite.

    July 13, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. BDC IA

    I am just sick of another person stating it's normal to wonder and have curiousity but if you think it and feel it, that doesn't mean you should do it. I would agree if someone was talking abuot hurting another person or committing a crime, but when it comes to simply loving another human being.. I am pretty sure these are instictive feelings of good and guess what, I am all for it.

    July 13, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Terry Gloege

    Michelle knows how to get her share (and then some) of those tax dollars she claims to hate so much!! How much did she collect for all those foster kids she had at her group home?

    July 13, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Gloria

    Being from Minnesota, I am ashamed that both Bachmann & Pawlenty are running for POTUS. Hope people know that all Minnesotans aren't wacky, nut jobs.

    July 13, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. QS

    After listening to people like Bachmann, he or she, I'm left with only one conclusion – that there has never been a more pressing need than right now to start opening up clinics that offer "reparative therapy" to those who have had their minds corrupted, contaminated and polluted by the religion corporation!

    These clinics would be a good first step to reducing the religious fanaticism infecting our country. They could be called RRF's – Rationality Restoration Facilities. They would treat people who go there for help by first reintroducing them to reality, which is one of the integral steps in the therapy...even the slogan could be something along the lines of "Believing without seeing is not faith, it's psychosis", or "We specialize in the removal of malignant religious cancers."

    As far as I'm concerned, anybody who still needs further proof as to why religion is so dangerous and destructive to our society and civilization as a whole need only pay closer attention to the things these people say....any institution that can lead a person to think this way "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," should always be looked at through a lens of skepticism and distrust.

    I used to give religion the benefit of the doubt, that it was simply just the individual that was off their rocker and it wasn't the fault of the religion....thanks to the zealots however, I can no longer convince myself to believe that as time and again I am shown, by the very people demanding their beliefs be respected, that they give absolutely no valid reasons as to why I should respect their beliefs in the first place.

    I long for a time when religion can be diminished and relegated to nothing more than an obscure mentioning in our history books. Until that time, we should do everything in our power to stop people like Bachmann from ever holding any public office that will have influence over others in any way.

    July 13, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Anna

    Did she seriously liken gay people to "barbarians?" It's baffling to me that people in this country could elect someone like that. When did Freedom of Religion turn into Freedom to Cram My Personal Beliefs Down Your Throat? And what place does any of this have in politics? ZERO!!! I'm embarrassed as an American that people like Bachmann are elected to represent this country. @Leroy, I think you're delusional. I can't wait until all of this blows up in the Republicans face next election.

    July 13, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. TIRM

    Hatred from the left is out in full force on this. You may not agree with her opinions or beliefs, but it is her right to have them. The view of the left is that all beliefs or thought that does not agree with their principles must be destroyed. Now tell me who is more tolerant?

    July 13, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. shawn

    Why are these conservative, homophobic perverts so OBSESSED with gay people? Some people are gay. Get over it. In a growing number of countries, the idiotic and bigoted idea of "curing" gay people is considered medical malpractice. This is just example number 5,547, 678 of how Bachmannnnn and her wacky supporters are literally centuries behind the times. They are insane! THIS is who conservatives in America are? No thanks. I'll vote for Obama and the Democrats.

    July 13, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Rob

    This idiot re-defines the term "uneducated". Only in America would a fifth century religious bible slapper run such a fake business. Hey Michele, got any snake skin oil for sale?

    July 13, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. jackass

    why can't the GOP field normal candidates? why do they find these nut jobs?

    July 13, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Stacey

    "I hope more of this comes out so she does not become president."

    Not to worry. This religous freak won't ever be president. She's way too weird and extreme and would never win in the general election. Besides, she'd have to win over independents and most of them think she's nuts.

    July 13, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. jacksodm

    This women is a "nutcase". I'm neither "Gay" nor Democrat, but she stands about as much of a chance of being
    elected President, as a snowball in "Miami Southbeach".

    July 13, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. The Dude

    I believe that she suffers from mental retardation. Reading her comments/opinions makes me realize that she is promoting hate and division. She would be wrong as leader of anything. Imagine her teaching her values to girl scouts, or your child. Hell, even the people at my trailer part consider her crazy (including Bert who thinks he is Elvis).
    Please make all the stupid go away.

    July 13, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. David

    I'd like to be a little taller. You suppose Marcus could teach me to pray to make that happen?

    July 13, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Drogo, who bit the dust

    This is a serious candidate for president? She probably needs psychological help more than anyone.

    July 13, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. rob

    Homophobics fear their repressed homosexuality. A study appearing in the August 1996 issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), provides new empirical evidence that is consistent with that theory.
    Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted an experiment involving 35 homophobic men and 29 nonhomophobic men as measured by the Index of Homophobia scale. All the participants selected for the study described themselves as exclusively heterosexual both in terms of sexual arousal and experience.
    Each participant was exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual and lesbian videotapes (but not necessarily in that order). Their degree of sexual arousal was measured by penile plethysmography, which precisely measures and records male tumescence.
    Men in both groups were aroused by about the same degree by the video depicting heterosexual sexual behavior and by the video showing two women engaged in sexual behavior. The only significant difference in degree of arousal between the two groups occurred when they viewed the video depicting male homosexual sex: 'The homophobic men showed a significant increase in penile circumference to the male homosexual video, but the control [nonhomophobic] men did not.'
    Broken down further, the measurements showed that while 66% of the nonhomophobic group showed no significant tumescence while watching the male homosexual video, only 20% of the homophobic men showed little or no evidence of arousal. Similarly, while 24% of the nonhomophobic men showed definite tumescence while watching the homosexual video, 54% of the homophobic men did.
    When asked to give their own subjective assessment of the degree to which they were aroused by watching each of the three videos, men in both groups gave answers that tracked fairly closely with the results of the objective physiological measurement, with one exception: the homophobic men significantly underestimated their degree of arousal by the male homosexual video.

    July 13, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. gt

    2 more americans killed in iraq yesterday .. 2 wars ..were in debt up to our eye balls...unemployment at 9 % and this is the lead story...ugh

    July 13, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. bashaleebee

    My heart broke for that kid in the video. Can't believe someone this backwards and crazy has made it so far. Good, let her win the primaries, because no way in hell will she be able to beat Obama. There's many gay republicans and republican gay rights advocates, such as Cheney and his daughter. Obama would have to do something really f'd up George W +++ proportions to lose against Bachmann.

    July 13, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Sy2502

    I'd send her to a clinic to cure her of her stupidity, but I'm afraid it's a terminal condition.

    July 13, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. True Light

    Don’t let learned feelings control who you really are. Just as some people have different feelings than others, some people seem to be unusually susceptible to particular actions, reactions, or addictions. Feelings are another matter. Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of “nature and nurture.” Perchance these susceptibilities are acquired without personal choice or fault, like the unnamed ailment described by the Apostle Paul, “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” A person may have feelings or tendencies that draw them to a susceptibility such as gambling, but unlike those who only dabble, he becomes a compulsive gambler. Another person may have a taste for alcohol and a susceptibility to its addiction and by choice becomes an alcoholic. Another for tobacco, hot temper, pornography, covetous attitude, contentious manner, homosexuality, and so on. Let us be careful not to use the word Gay as a noun. It's and adjective. Make no mistake God is perfect. He doesn't mistake his sons and daughters. He wants us all to fulfill our rolls as such. Only satan would want this plan confused and drive people to believe otherwise because of susceptibilities. I'm not going to come out and say Liberal this or Right winger that. Let's just say confussed or wicked people are fighting this and will until they have become enlightened. We should we fight against 10 years from now. Are these same people going to say to a rapist, child molestor, murderer, "It's ok you were born that way. It's in your make up of who you are. That's why you do that." Let's not become a society of accept everything and stand for nothing.

    “Most of us are born with [or develop] thorns in the flesh, some more visible, some more serious than others. We all seem to have susceptibilities to one disorder or another, but whatever our susceptibilities, we have the will and the power to control our thoughts and our actions. This must be so. God has said that he holds us accountable for what we do and what we think, so our thoughts and actions must be controllable by our agency. Once we have reached the age or condition of accountability, the claim ‘I was born that way’ does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal.
    “God has promised that he will consecrate our afflictions for our gain (see 2 Ne. 2:2). The efforts we expend in overcoming any inherited [or developed] weakness build a spiritual strength that will serve us throughout eternity. Thus, when Paul prayed thrice that his ‘thorn in the flesh’ would depart from him, the Lord replied, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Obedient, Paul concluded:
    “‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    “‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong’ (2 Cor. 12:9–10).
    “Whatever our susceptibilities or tendencies [feelings], they cannot subject us to eternal consequences unless we exercise our free agency to do or think the things forbidden by the commandments of God. We have to be particularly careful of the personal argument that because we have a strong drive toward a particular act, that we have no power or choice and therefore no responsibility for our actions. This type of argument or contention goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Satan would like us to believe we are not responsible in this life.

    July 13, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. bobden

    How can a christian also be a republican and a tp creep?

    July 13, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Bachmann

    This lady is a gem....Hope she goes far...she provides great material for me to laugh at.

    July 13, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. tools

    Minnesotans ARE wack jobs. I live there. Good old Dayton coocoo eyes fresh out of the psych ward Gov. etc, etc, etc.

    July 13, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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