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. never1565

    Can you pray away the stupid, too???? I say cut off all thier government funding!

    July 13, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. Marc

    How can a repressed Closet Queen preach to gays. He is the one who needs the help.

    July 13, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Fly Guy in SJ

    So, a number of people posting in this thread have said that she's a hater, a hypocrite, and a liar. OK, go ahead: cite (with source) a lie she has told, a hypocritical thing she has done, or a hateful thing she has said. Note that "I don't agree with her opinion/position/policy on subject X" does not qualify. Disagreeing with someone does not make her a hater, a liar, or a hypocrite.

    Then, for extra credit, pick someone whose political opinions you agree with, and cite (with source) a time that person has done one of those things.

    I think you'll find this to be an educational exercise in tolerance and inclusiveness (those are your favorite words, aren't they? Funny how you seem to have so little of either of those qualities).

    July 13, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. AmericanDoc

    Here is a case of facts vs. fiction. If a parent brings a child under the age of 16 into a psychologist because the child dresses and/or behaves like the opposite sex (ie. boy wears dresses), then that child is diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. If a parent brings the same child in at the age of 16 or older, then the disorder is not diagnosed. Simply due to the persons age. What other disorder/malady is cured by turning 16 years old. Homosexuality was also considered a disorder until the 1970s when it became politically incorrect to call it such. Check out the DSM III vs. the DSM IV. "Curing" homosexuality is probably rarely successful and obviously as difficult or moreso than curing alcoholism or any other undesirable behavioual condition. But by trashing any and all services who attempt to provide an "out" for those looking for help, the media, the goverment, and the LGBT agenda, are once again removing the freedom of choice for those who may not wish to be gay. Even if the treatment fails, isn't it a persons right to seek it out if they wish too? It seems to CNN, that Bachman is the new Palin whipping post. A new story every day to make her look bad. But I, for one, am quite impressed. Thank you for this information

    July 13, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Pat in IL

    These are "anything for a buck" people. Is he or she even qualified as a psychologist? It's amazing to me that anyone in 2011 can so totally ignore the science that now proves that homosexuality is not a choice.

    July 13, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Michael

    My thanks to the Bachmann's and their Medicaid Clinic for their willingness to add some comic relief to my day.
    I hope once the therapy is perfected they can move on to an even larger potential market – "pray away the ignorance."

    July 13, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. John Gault

    It's stunning how many assume that disagreeing with homosexual lifestyle or practice means you are intolerant, barbaric, homophobic, etc. Really? That's strange because I do disagree with such choice, yet I don't treat homosexuals as anything less than what they are, image bearers of the God who made them. As with all humans, we are a mix of glory and tragedy. I know this about myself so I'm chastened and careful to not point fingers, yet I realize that I am able to reason and communicate so I humbly offer a perspective that might differ from others. This in no way makes someone intolerant. In fact, the historical usage of the word simply means graciousness in the sight of error or disagreement. It doesn't mean we agree on all things and fear a label or ridicule when we don't. That sounds quite intolerant and prejudice. A closed minded person is not someone who disagrees with you, it is someone who refuses to consider your position and respond reasonably and with dignity and honor towards you. At the end of the day, the issue is not whether someone is a fundamentalist or not. The fundamental is the issue. Have you ever seen an Amish terrorist? No. So their fundamental is grace and forgiveness. We're not going to get very far as a culture if we simply throw stones and insult one another when we disagree. We ought to strive for discourse that gives respect, patience and grace while we passionately disagree. Without which, no side can claim the moral high ground if both turn into name-calling, fear-mongering haters.

    July 13, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. rtbrno65

    If being gay is a choice than why is it necessary to have a clinic to cure it?

    July 13, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    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.
    Many people have asked this same question. The answer is that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. There is nothing wrong with applying for Medicare for medical treatments.

    The problem comes from using Medicare funds to promote religion, instead of providing medical services. This has the appearance of a pattern of fraud that has been conducted over a number of years.

    The Bachmanns deny the sort of treatment described in the article because they have to. To admit to performing and conducting prayers, teaching religion, and practicing religion on public funds constitutes fraud.

    July 13, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. SMDH

    I think she made a huge mistake by making these comments. Even if this is her honest belief, in this day and age it is better to keep certain things to yourself. Her take on whether or not gays can be cured by religion is neither here nor there, and WILL NOT FIX OUR ECONOMY.

    July 13, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. katy Heys

    Bachmann will not be the nominee. Her background and past will kill any chance she may have. She has been sounding more reasonable of late and that is because she's hired Ed Rolllins (who is a political commentator on CNN) to advise her. But even Ed can't hide her bioted, small minded and ignorant past actions. She has no congressional record. She has also said that when she makes a decision, she follows her husband's direction. The more we see of Michelle the worse it will be for her. Also, have you ever noticed that she never blinks her eyes?

    July 13, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. ja

    the clinic is a slick means of getting rich, so is her fostering children America's first nonwhite president has caused the scum to crawl from under rocks and crevices, seems like the fiscally concerned (GOP) has had their heads in the sand, nicely said

    July 13, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Dominican Mama wrote:
    Rudy sometimes you remind me of the lady they call Bones in the program of the same name. Not everything can logically explained, some stuff is intuition, innate, etc.
    You've expressed your viewpoint on gays on this site before. I don't agree with it but I respect your opinion.
    I think you missed my point. If the article is true, then the Bachmanns have committed Medicare fraud for years. They use tax dollars to perform exorcisms.

    July 13, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Observer

    "Curing" gays? Bachmann needs to work on curing stupidity first.

    July 13, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Observer

    "Curing" gays? Bachmann needs to work on curing ignorance first.

    July 13, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Bergie

    Yeah, Mr. Bachmann does seem to be a little effeminate. It would not surprise me if he's bi-sexual. And I say more power to him. I imagine Michele would be a little miffed.

    July 13, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Bachmann Large Dose of Crazy

    "If straight people dislike gay marriage, then they need to stop making gay babies." author unknown

    Bachmann, you and your husband are batpoo crazy.

    July 13, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. runmom

    If she's a job creator, why doesn't she go and talk to some of the big corporations and have them create jobs? You know the ones ... those companies who haven't paid taxes in umpteen years ...

    July 13, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Mark Buxman

    Sorry, but just because someone doesn't agree that being gay or lesbian is right, doesn't make them any more right or wrong than believing that being gay or lesbian is right. You whine and cry about the gay bashing but yet y'all can sure bash the crap out of the straight people. Are the people at the clinic forced to go there with a gun to thier head? You religion bashing dolts really don't have a clue. You want to be accepted try using another method than bashing. How about we quit wasting millions of dollars on the whole gay/lesbian issue and focus on getting the politicians to do thier job and fix the problems they have caused.

    July 13, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. whoa!

    my first thought was: is there anything that can "fix" her? Then I remembered Ron White's quip: "You can't fix stupid"... Never a truer example!

    July 13, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    ["We're very proud of the business that we've created," she added.]

    If she's proud of it why doesn't she want to talk about it?

    July 13, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. clarke

    OMG LOL LOL LOL.. Ok she can cure gay. I bet she also believes that going to church makes her a Christian, just like standing in a garage makes her a car.

    July 13, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. ProperVillain

    "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,"
    I thing this statement unmasks the true "barbarian". What a total blockhead. This is the "us vs them" mentality that I loathe in most protestant churches. Not all Christians think this way. I know I don't, and I know plenty of others who do not. Unfortunately the simpletons who like to use scripture as a cheap soundbite are the ones with the loudest voice. The church has been hijacked as a political tool once again. History continues to repeat itself and buffoons such as these continue to rise to power.

    July 13, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. Eric of Reseda

    BACHMANN FOR PRESIDENT!!! That way, this slow death of the America would be hastened, and we could sooner begin the process of rebuilding. And the perk of The Fall of the American Empire is that the Bachmanns of htis country would finally be completely exposed and discredited. Tea Partiers, in their rightful outrage at the state of affairs in this country, have unfortunately been blinded by that rage and have bought into the empty rhetoric of the Far Right, who sells this country down the river over and over and over again. Case in point, this nations deficit is a DIRECT result of the deficit spending of Reagan, Bush 1 & 2. Obama is incidental to what these guys did. That's a fact. Meanwhile, Right Wingers love to say that Dems are bad for the economy. Question: Who was the last President to balance the budget and actually pay down the deficit some, allowing this country to prosper? Another question: Which President left this country the most powerful nation on Earth, both militarily and economically? (Hint: He did this after 10 years of GOP rule sent us into the Great Depression.) The Right Wing is essentially and an arm of Big Business and the multi-nationals, and they don't give a hoot for the Middle Class or the poor. Bachmann is nothing but one more of their stooges.

    July 13, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. carly

    Straight out of the Bruno movie.

    July 13, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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