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. James

    The Courage program sponsored by the Catholic Church is a much more effective program in dealing with unwanted same sex attraction.

    July 13, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. T

    ......M. Bachmann is text book crazy and Mr. Bachmann may have a liitle sugar that he does not want to admit. That being said. They are taking GOV monies for their own personal believes. They are fools of fools and there will be more coming out on this family just keep reading. Only in America they have FOOLS running for the Big House. This is a shame........
    M. Bachmann is NUTS.........

    July 13, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Justinstl

    This is America...the land of freedom. For anyone here to say that it is not ok to be gay is crazy. If its ok to pray away the gay then it must also be ok to pray away the black and pray away the Jew or Mexican or Muslim.. If anyone says that it is a choice to be gay they must also realize then that its a choice to be christian or choice to be Jewish or Muslim . Most important it is a choice to be hateful. Are these people saying that it is ok to hate....if so then they are guilty of hate crimes by not allowing All people to be who they are and believe in what they choose to. Who cares that this woman is a successful business woman as well...and we all know that 90% of successful business people got to where they are by stepping on others to get where they are. Why is this ok? why is it acceptable to step on or over the little guy to gain? Religion has no business at all in politics and a politicians personal beliefs should never be discussed and used to gain votes. The bible is a story book written by MEN (NOT WOMEN) to control the masses. Government has no business making statements about core family values either.... and should not be allowed to make , pass , or even deny laws that involve ones personal beliefs as long as they do not PHYSICALLY or financially harm others. Being gay or straight of your choice of religion does not Physically harm anyone or damage the world in any way at all...so why does the government have anything to do at all .with it? In that case successful business people who step on others to gain should be in trouble because their decisions DO hurt others....WHY IS THAT OK? Jack Smith can not marry Joe Brown which doesn't harm others but Michelle business woman can lay off workers to outsource jobs to gain financially which does hurt others. America is wrong in the way that we run our country in so so many ways. It is wrong for any society to delegate what is acceptable or not acceptable on any issue that does not PHYSICALLY or financially harm other people. THEY SAY MONEY... NOT BELIEFS IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL ...AND America SURE HAS THE LUST GREED FOR MONEY DON'T IT!

    July 13, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Rifraf

    Let's see. Come up with a business plan to prey on those who feel rejected by society, and will try anything to become "normal".....brilliant! It'll make her millions,

    Pray for this woman. She is sick, and has no idea what being religious is really about. If she becomes president, I will move to Canada.

    July 13, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Justinstl

    IF being gay is a CHOICE & its not ok to be gay then it is not ok to be heterosexual and its not ok to be wealthy and its not ok to be Christian ...not ok to let women work or vote. These are also all CHOICES!!!

    July 13, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Ronald de Graaf

    Bachman must be a sick person, who think see is. Love between two people is universal. When God not want that gay people live on oure planet he never give us the chance to be born thats why God is love to all of humanity.
    He also love Michele Bachman and he will forgive hear some day. I hope that America will shake hands with the new time who is coming because it will bring freedom to every human on earth. More country"s will see gay people as a human with rights and this freedom will bring gaymarrige to world.

    Peace, Freedom and Love to all people on this beautifull world.

    Ronald de Graaf, 6 year happenly married with my man Henny. Netherlands

    July 13, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    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.
    Amen to that.
    I too pray. I pray that Bat$hit Bachmann wins the RethugliKKKlan nomination so that the whole world could see what an abomination, selfish, greed-driven and humorless joke the Republicans of yore have become. And I know that if my prayer is answered President Obama will shake the dust off of his shoes with her at their first 'debate'.

    July 13, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Texan

    Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts. Bachmann brought the issue of being a business owner so it's fair game. But what amazes me is that journalists can put a story out there...pit one side against the other throught combative quotes ... and not do any real investigative journalism.

    There are truly individuals out there who have lived the gay lifestyle and then come out of it. Why not do the work to investigate all sides of the issue?

    July 13, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Chris

    This is what I don't understand. He went to a Christian Counseling center...a place that focuses on the integration of Christian beliefs with psychological counseling...said he was homosexual and wanted to become heterosexual, and the clinic agreed to try to help him. He was then shocked by the fact that a Christian counselor (whom he/his mother chose to go to) advised that he do Christian things to help with what he requested help for. It's not like he was in a counseling session for some other reason and the counselor found out he was homosexual and said "Oh geez, repent from your wicked ways you heathen." The guy Walked into the center and Asked for help. I'm no psychologist and can't claim to know one way or the other how the particular therapy they prescribed works...but I do know people that chose to leave that lifestyle and was helped along the way by practices similar.

    This is what drives me nuts about all of this...the patient is making the choice, the doctor is trying to help the patient with their choice, and we blast the doctor for doing his job as it lines up with his belief structure. And just to toss this out there...the whole concept that homosexuality is genetically hardwired? Yeah, I'll buy that people have a genetic predisposition towards it, but it's still a choice. Someone born with homicidal tendencies still chooses whether to kill or not...they just have a lean towards doing it. Your genes are not 100% of who you are...if they were, identical twins would never deviate from each other at all. You have choice, you have personal responsibility, and it's high time we, as a culture, got back to letting people be responsible for their lives and decisions rather than blaming it off on external (or internal) factors. Even if they have the predisposition...it is ALWAYS a choice.

    July 13, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Frank

    What is it, only creeps and crazies run for president anymore?

    July 13, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |

    The Bachmann's claim you can pray the gay away, what idiots, but on top of that they get tax payer money, now that's some real BS. Here's one thing we haven't heard yet, she keep stalking about the 23 foster she raised, how much tax payer money did she receive for 23 foster kids?!? I bet a lot more than the money to the pray away the gay clinic. What shills.

    July 13, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Iconoclast

    To all those who say being gay is a lifesyle choice, you are basing your OPINION on a BELIEF system, not rational thought or observation. I'm not gay myself, but I have many gay friends, and it's obvious to me when I see them and talk to them that they are gay. How can this be a choice? Who would choose to subject themselves to the ridicule of society so willingly. I am left with the reality that there is no choice, they were born that way. To those who wonder what's wrong with a "christian" counseling service providing services to people who they claim want them, they recieve federal money in the form of medicare. They better be qualified practitioners with degrees and licenses. I worry about the children who are forced into it by their parents and have no say in the matter. There may be legitimacy to the claim that abuse as a child can confuse a person about their sexuality, but I will be willing to bet that science will find biological differences in the large majority of gay males just like they have in gay females. Believe what you want in the privacy of your own home/church. But don't try to force your opinions or beliefs on others. Legislating those beliefs are a violation of our constitution. Stay out of peoples private lives, and tend your own garden.

    July 13, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Rhonda wrote:
    Once again all evangelical Christians are wrongly portrayed as being the same because of a high profile case.
    The article is about two specific people, not all. Besides, genuine followers of The Word would never involve themselves in politics. True believers would draw no distinction between associating with politicians and associating with the devil. Especially politicians that display no mercy for the poor, the weak, the hungry, and the old.

    July 13, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Blackman in America

    LOL......................so I guess it's true that people believe the first 3 letters in CONServative is CONS. These people need to "cure" themselfs first, what a JOKE.

    July 13, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Olivia

    Think. There is a psychological condition that has very ominous statistics. Early death. Documented. Illness prone. Some like warts, some deadly like you know what. Some mental like defensiveness.
    Should we be surprised if some people who are in the quandary of how to deal with this should seek help?
    A clinic is for those who seek it.
    My son was raped at an early age and struggled through many years of hurt and turmoil. I don't know who helped him, but he is now a calm wise Christian.
    The health issue alone calls for many many clinics. To be approached in free will and with dignity.and respect.

    July 13, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. shawn

    Why are these conservative wackos so OBSESSED with gay people? Some people are gay. Get over it. Gay people don't do anything straight people don't do, and everybody who knows gay people knows there isn't some separate and mysterious "lifestyle." The bigotry and oppression of gays is a national disgrace in the "Land of the Free" and right-wing homophobe fanatics need to enter the 21st century and grow up. Freedom and equality are the American way, and that includes gay people.

    July 13, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Max in OC, CA

    I am a Christian man who believes in the bible. I'm partial to the NKJV. I don't agree with homosexuality and believe what the bible says about homosexuality and all the it infers. When appropriate I try to share my faith with others. BUT here is my big fat contradiction/hypocritical dilemma–do I not believe in homosexuality because that's what I feel I should?? Sadly my answer is yes!!–I believe that my God loves everyone–straight or LGBT!! I know many LGBT(s) and they are great people and strong Christians and go to church and try to live in Godly way. My God is multifaceted and I think that in the end–God is God–no matter what the denomination or country of belief. While some may distort scripture to total ugliness to suit themselves, I feel he reps something different to all of us. Who am I to say that the South American tribes who have never seen the "white man" will go to and burn in hell because they aren't Christians–NO!! They may worship a freaking tree as their God and I respect that. I feel we will all be accountable in the "end". But even if being LGBT is a sin–my God forgives all. They are human, my friends, have great families, don't shove it on me and many times have greater ethics, values and morals than most of us. Love is love no matter if its Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve. This woman needs to shut up and quit judging people because she doesn't agree. Its weird–many people are afraid to have LGBTs shove their values on them–and they don't–but boy-o-boy this chick sure does. God loves us all. Its people like this chick who cause people to dislike Christians, and unlike the LGBTs, she sure does shove her values down our throats. Please forgive my blathering–there is a msg there that makes sense I hope.

    July 13, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. Joe

    There are 23 foster and adopted kids at Marcus and Michele Bachmann's home. And they have five kids of their own. The statistical odds are that 2 or 3 of their 23 kids are gay. I wonder if their "dad" has changed any of them at home from gay to straight? Perhaps their home is not a proper place for these foster and adopted kids, if they are subjected to the Bachmann's beliefs. His beliefs being that he can "change a gay person to a straight person." All done by therapy in his Christian counseling practice named Bachmann & Associates, owned by Michele and Marcus. All done with the blessings of Michele.
    Myself, I can't wait for the books to come out when these kids grow up!

    July 13, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. AW

    Bachmann for President!!!

    July 13, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. Used2bestr8

    Reply to Mr. Brady....

    I a productive GWM living in America. I have been monogomously dedicated to my partner of 7 years. I have raised a daughter who is now a productive member of society and married and 25. She understands and admires my relationship. Myself and my partner are dedicated tax paying Americans, we value personal responsibility, and fiscal responsibility. I come from a "social conservative" upbringing and was once a respected Youth Pastor in a charismatic church. One thing I have learned since my conversion to reality is that my status change from straight to "gay" was not choice driven, rather a revelation. Many conscience driven choices cannot be remediated by the use of psychological therapy. I can no mare make you gay, as you can make me straight. Biological principals are also in play. If all intimacy is pro-creation based, according to God's plan, than why do both gay and straight couples engage in acts of intimacy one to several times a day or week. Surely it is not for the sole purpose of pro-creating. Otherwise it's usefullness would dictate engaging in such intimate activities only once ever 10 -12 months. But yet, this is not the case. As well, as a matter of historical understanding, it is well known that principals established thousands of years ago are limited by the mental and reasoning abilities of the populace of that time. The tendency to remove this relevant factor is rather comprehensive in most biblical and conservative studies even til today. In closing, I tend to retire and grow old with my partner until death. Until my last breath, I will honor him and my family unit. That is a principal that transcends even the most controversial of of opiniions.

    July 13, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. bb

    And we all thought she was too much of an airhead to be a scammer.....Goes to show.

    July 13, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. So Excited!!!!

    Michele, I LOVE YOU!!! I think you are the greatest thing to happen to American politics since Sarah Palin. And if Sarah jumps into the race, I think I might just die from over-exposure to pure, blessed joy! You are a steam-roller and the other Republicans are just matchbox cars. Take that nomination, Lady....it's yours....I want you to get it sooooo badly!!!!!

    BECAUSE I will pay $1,000,000,000,000,000 to see Obama take you out to the woodshed during the debates and expose you and all of your whack-job NON-Christians who hate everyone and strive to instill fear in others. Your kind took my party away from me. You want nothing but the biggest possible government intervention into every aspect of our lives. That is not Christian and it is not Republican.

    P.S. Folks, go to Google. Type in "Bat", "**slang word for fecal matter**" and "Crazy". Look where this woman ranks...it's right above Tom Cruise...

    July 13, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. DENNA

    @Gloria – I hear you. The entire field of Republican presidential wannabes is not to be believed. As for all of the senior citizens and union members who voted for these people – how in the world is that working for you now?

    July 13, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    How is this any different from obtaining Medicare funds to cure people of demonic posessioins, exorcisms. After all, that is what they describe themselves as doing. Isn't it?

    July 13, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. Octavio

    But you have admit, she is very hot!

    July 13, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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