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. Anthony

    Her and husband should search out a cure for stupid.

    July 13, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. LC

    Pray the gay away, is that where were at in 2011? Reading bible passages as "treatment". This just shows how loony this family is, and she wants to be president. I don't think so.

    July 13, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. American

    Nope. Not reality. No curing gays. We are good people. AND WE VOTE.
    Bush/Cheney used us twice as political pawns to win their elections...I'm looking at a nation of abusive parents murdering their own children; corporate abuse on a massive scale; incompetent politicians; millions of unemployed and THIS 'easy target' is all this stupid bitch can talk about????? Are you kidding me???? Bring your speech to me lady, I'll show you what's real.

    July 13, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. BENJI

    She should cure retardation, starting with herself.

    July 13, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. shawn

    It's pretty ridiculous that so many brainwashed and braindead people ACTUALLY believe the writings and ramblings of ancient Middle Easterners are the last word on human morality and sexuality. Your blah, blah, blah, SIN, blah, blah nonsense makes you look stupid and incapable of thinking rationally and it has NOTHING to do with equality in 21st-century America. The fact that you have absolutely nothing on which to support your ignorant bigotry besides hiding behind your ridiculous religion is why you are LOSING the debate. Equality and freedom trump religious fanaticism. Don't like it? Go live with the Taliban because that's who you are. Oh, and Bachmann is a dingbat who will NEVER be president.

    July 13, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Maggie

    Why don't Anderson Cooper get a life and stop his attack on Bachmann. Is it because he is gay that he is attacking her? CNN's reporters have gotten so bias that they cannot report in a neutral way and especially if the person is a republican, they want to punish them. They did the same thing to Sarah Palin and now they have started on Michelle Bachmann. Does Anderson Cooper have something against Republican women?

    July 13, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Poindexter

    I wonder if someone can "cure" her ignorance/hate? She and her husband are lunatics.

    July 13, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Bubba

    Hilarious. Can they turn straight people g ay too? One's as likely as the other.

    July 13, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Bubba

    So can they turn straight people into gay people? One's as likely as the other.

    July 13, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. jean

    For all of you who think that "liberals" and/or "gay people" are being intolerant when they call this woman and those like her crazy or bigoted – no. No one, no gay person, nobody is trying to take her rights away. Nobody is trying to keep her from living her life the way that she wants to. No one is objecting to her being a hateful, bigoted, intolerant demon. Everyone who is taking issue with her is taking issue with her desire to take away the rights of those who oppose her.

    But also...
    We should expect and demand that our leaders be more intelligent than us, more knowledgeable about our government and history and more experienced with functioning in a diverse, multicultural world. When a woman whose business is essentially based on junk science, whose views show a less than rudimentary grasp of history and the world, and whose hypocritical acceptance of government handouts while claiming that she wants to take those away from others should absolutely be brought to the public's attention. She has placed herself in a position to attempt to become the POTUS. It is our job as citizens to oppose this travesty as vehemently as we possibly can.

    July 13, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. kkelly

    to roro: When I saw mr. bachmann being interviewed and saw a few candid shots my gaydar went off big time!!! And everytime Michelle "dodges" a question, she looks like a stepford wife. Somethings not quite right with those two. That being said, I hope she wins the repub nomination to guarantee 4 more years of Obama. When people say he's not doing anythiing for this country, at least he's trying to. Imagine if McCain had been in office...we would be at the bottom of the cliff!

    July 13, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Bubba

    Either they are lying or just stupid.

    July 13, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC perhaps I did, however I did concur that they were misutilizing government funds, that equals Medicare fraud in my book.

    July 13, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Sank

    It shouldn't be anyones business but here and her husbands. Especially not any polecat Liberals.

    July 13, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. fletcher

    I thought God wanted all of his little lambs to be gay... I mean happy... oh nevermind!

    July 13, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. Jason in S.F.

    Good to see the Liberal spin machine in full force.

    July 13, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Jaywing

    At some point the GOP made a severe right turn into Crazyland and is now stuck in a cul-da-sac spinning in circles and going nowhere, with Bachmann at the wheel, Palin riding shotgun and the Mittster in the backseat, vigorously praying that somehow we'll all go blind, deaf and dumb and vote for them. Sorry folks, but I'm praying that all of you just go away.

    July 13, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. pkfops

    Sounds like the commie re-education program.

    I guess the Tea Party is a communist front.

    July 13, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. MikinAZ

    What century do these people live in? What century do their supporters live in? Religious zealots always reject science and are the least tolerant walking the earth. Is this really who ANYONE wants running our country?...or even involved in the least way of shaping the direction we go in? – as in backwards? really people?

    July 13, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. barking alien

    She needs to work on curing ignorance... her own.

    July 13, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Mark

    You can't change unless you want to. They have no clue. The Noe-Cons/Tea Baggers will support her simply because she's a republican. Unqualified, but a republican. How sad.

    July 13, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. David

    I'll take the Bachmann clinic thing with a grain of salt, because I don't have all the facts, but for all those who applaud her standing up for what she believes in, be careful, so did Adolf, right to his suicidal bitter end, and did I mention he took millions with him without their consent! America is the land of the free, not the land to freely persecute, but I'm hearing a bunch of that rhetoric from the GOP & Tea Party people. Be very careful of those who offer hate as a solution to anything!

    July 13, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. greg

    someone please open a clinic to "cure" tea-baggers.

    July 13, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. KJD

    If what their clinic claims is true, then the reverse must be possible. With the right therapy and prayer a straight person can surely become gay.
    Just crazy

    July 13, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. QS

    I am seeing a lot of comments that are trying to ride the fence on this issue – either because people simply won't admit that their beliefs and our Constitution are incompatible, or they want to appear tolerant of others why holding fast to their intolerant, discriminatory beliefs.

    Saying that these clinics should exist to help those people who may honestly want to change their homosexuality is the epitome of treating the symptom rather than the disease...in this case, the disease is the negative stigma associated with being gay which is derived from religion and its followers blindly believing something they were forced to believe while being raised.

    Essentially, people are claiming that "clinics" like the one the Bachmann's run are ok because there may be some gay people out there who have bought into that negative stigma about themselves and see no other recourse than to try to change who they are.

    The problem is not that gay people should have this "service" available to them, it's that others make gay people feel that they should actually WANT this "service" because they are wicked, bad, disgusting people who simply need a good dose of Christ and they'll be right as rain!

    Some say it's simply a matter of a difference of opinion....but when the opinion of the religious is that gay people either need help or should be forced to get help for something THEY deem undesirable, it no longer resides in the realm of opinion but rather in the realm of hate speech designed specifically to tell the rest of the world that gay people should be shunned, treated as less than human, and should not be allowed the same rights and liberties as others.

    I for one am over trying to "bridge the gap" between religion and reality. They demand respect for what they believe, even from those whom their beliefs condemn, and then turn around and claim that them offering help to cure their gayness is their idea of showing respect for us.

    Bottom line for me is that I refuse to continue playing this game of "how can you say you're tolerant when you refuse to abide by my beliefs?". I know what tolerance is and should be, and it's something that religious people, by their own admission, cannot ever accept unless they were to denounce their religion altogether. If that makes me intolerant, so be it...to me it just means I'm intolerant of anti-American and anti-Constitutional ideologies that do not and should not hold sway over anybody else.

    July 13, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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